Edited by Irina A. Sekerina, Lauren Spradlin and Virginia Valian
[Studies in Bilingualism 57] 2019
► pp. 131–146
Chapter 9. Referring expressions and executive functions in bilingualism
Recent research has shown that the bilingual experience has positive effects on non-linguistic cognition (Bialystok, 2009; Costa & Sebastian-Gallés, 2014) but also negative effects on language, for example on vocabulary size and lexical fluency (Pearson et al., 1993). While most of the linguistic ‘disadvantages’ of bilingualism have been discussed in the lexical domain, this question is scaled up here to the sentence level and a novel theoretical framework is proposed which explicitly connects psychological and linguistic research. It is suggested that the bilingual experience may (a) affect the reciprocal interactions between language and general cognition, and (b) modulate the relation between components of executive functions. These effects may in turn influence the processing of particular linguistic structures, such as anaphoric expressions, and lead to bilingual-monolingual differences that could be regarded as ‘disadvantages’ but are in fact the result of normal adaptive changes due to the bilingual experience. Future experimental research validating this proposal may benefit both linguistic models of anaphora resolution and psychological models of cognitive control in monolinguals and bilinguals.