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Entrenchment and Language Attrition

Steinkrauss, R and Schmid, MS (2016) 'Entrenchment and Language Attrition.' In: Schmid, H-J, (ed.) Entrenchment and the Psychology of Language Learning: How We Reorganize and Adapt Linguistic Knowledge. Language and the Human Lifespan Series . de Gruyter Mouton, 367 - 383. ISBN 9783110341423

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In cognitive linguistics it is assumed that the strength of entrenchment of linguistic knowledge in human memory has a direct impact on the way that such knowledge is structured and processed: more deeply entrenched knowledge will be represented more holistically and processed more automatically. At the same time, this view implies that linguistic knowledge may erode if certain memory traces are not used for longer periods of time. This process of deterioration is called language attrition, but it is unclear how exactly this erosion will proceed, and to what extent it can be explained solely on the basis of the degree of entrenchment of linguistic constructions. The present contribution reviews evidence on language attrition relevant to the perspective of entrenchment. We discuss to what extent factors such as the frequency and context of use impact on language attrition, and how different aspects of language are differentially affected by the attrition process due to, for example, the frequency of an item or crosslinguistic similarity. We conclude that attrition takes place at the intersection of a range of complex processes: while the strong entrenchment of the first language especially in later second language learners can explain the often minimal amount of attrition found in these populations, findings suggest that instead of the overall degree of entrenchment and L1 use it is an interplay between entrenchment and the differing ability of bilingual speakers to inhibit the L2 that impacts the amount of first language attrition.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: language, psycholinguistics, second language learning, language attrition
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Language and Linguistics, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 03 Jan 2018 16:43
Last Modified: 03 Jan 2018 17:15

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