Crosslinguistic influence and morphological awareness in English (third language) writing

International Journal of Bilingualism

Aims: The aim of the present paper is twofold. Firstly, we look into the effects of a number offactors on crosslinguistic influence (study 1). Secondly, we analyse the role played by morphologicalawareness in the production of crosslinguistic instances (study 2). In this way, we contribute to theunderstanding of how crosslinguistic and metalinguistic dimensions of third language acquisitionare intertwined.Methodology: We investigate lexical adaptations of the first language and second language inthird language English (i.e. adapted loan words) and combine quantitative and qualitative researchmethods. A quantitative analysis explores the impact of the first language, the L2 factor, typologyand proficiency in the target and the source languages (study 1). A qualitative analysis thenproposes a categorization of the strategies used by participants to adapt their first language andsecond language to the target language (study 2).Data and Analysis: Language proficiency was evaluated in 222 compositions, 74 written in eachlanguage (Basque, Spanish and English). The adapted loan words found in English compositionswere classified according to their source language, word category, word class and type/tokencategories (study 1). In addition, the strategies used by participants were identified and analysed(study 2).Findings: The results indicate that language typology is the main predictor of the source languageof crosslinguistic influence, and a variety of strategies point at morphological awareness as a keyfactor in the strategic use of participants’ first language and second language.Originality: By mixing quantitative and qualitative methods, this paper provides additionalsupport to the claim that crosslinguistic influence and morphological awareness are intertwinedin third language writing.Significance: The overall results show that students who are morphologically aware makecrosslinguistic and morphological associations and use them strategically in their third language.