Do more proficient writers use fewer cognates in L2? A computational approach

Liat Nativ, Yuval Nov, Noam Ordan, Shuly Wintner, Anat Prior

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bilinguals often show evidence of cross language influences, such as facilitation in processing cognates. Here we use computational methods for analyzing spontaneous English texts written by hundreds of speakers of different L1s, at different levels of English proficiency, to investigate writers' preference for using cognates over alternative word choices. We focus on English, since a majority of its lexicon is either of Romance or Germanic origin, allowing an investigation of the preference of speakers of Germanic and Romance L1s towards cognates between their L1 and English. Results show that L2 writers tend to prefer English cognates, and that this tendency is weaker as English proficiency level increases, suggesting diminishing effects of CLI. However, a comparison of the L2 writers with native English writers shows general overuse of cognates only for the Germanic, but not the Romance, L1 speakers, most likely due to the register of argumentative writing.

Original languageEnglish
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press.


  • cognates
  • computational
  • proficiency
  • proficiency
  • written production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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