Can bilingual syntax get coactivated?
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Studies on bilingual word production suggest that lexical entries corresponding to translation equivalents can get activated in parallel and compete for selection. But can lexical coactivation affect the processing of syntactic properties? Specifically, can syntactic properties of the translation word in the language-not-in-use get activated and affect syntax of the currently spoken language? To investigate this, I examined the production of attraction errors in number agreement (e.g., The report of the forest fires were lost) by late Italian-English bilinguals. Participants completed one-language sentence fragments (e.g., The hunt for the black whales or La caccia alle balene nere) and two-language sentence fragments (e.g., La caccia for the black whales or The hunt alle balene nere) in English or Italian. Although participants were sensitive to the plural feature of the local noun they were not found to produce more attraction errors due to the additional activation of the plural feature from the coactivated translation of the local noun. Results are discussed in terms of influences of individual differences, morphology and semantics on bilingual sentence production.