Do languages with cognate relationships have advantages in second language acquisition

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Second-language students usually use various strategies in learning second language (Bialystock, 1991). This article is concerned with cognitive evidence bearing on the nature of the units stored in the mental lexicons of speakers of Semitic languages, Arabic and Hebrew. On the basis of lexical connections between translation equivalents represented in the cognitive system of Arabic Hebrew bilingual, I suggest that cognate words that have phonological overlap can influence the recognition of translation equivalents. I review documented language literature and that lead to the same conclusion and discuss evidence for the morphemic status of templates from repetition priming effects (reaction times (RTs) and accuracy measures) were compared between translation equivalents in forms of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and Hebrew. MSA targets were preceded by cognate and non-cognate translation equivalents in Hebrew immediately in a lexical decision task. The participants were requested to make a word/nonword decision regardless of language. The larger priming effects between Hebrew-MSA cognate words than non-cognate suggests that cognate’s relationship affects acquisition of second language regardless of the mother tongue. The conclusion was that, the strength of the lexical associations between translation equivalents is influenced not only by the frequency of concomitant use but rather by their cognate status.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-96
Number of pages31
JournalThe Linguistics Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 28 Jul 2006


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