This study asked whether bilinguals construct a language-independent level of information structure for the sentences that they produce. It reports an experiment in which a Polish–English bilingual and a confederate of the experimenter took turns to describe pictures to each other and to find those pictures in an array. The confederate produced a Polish active, passive, or conjoined noun phrase, or an active sentence with object–verb–subject order (OVS sentence). The participant responded in English, and tended to produce a passive sentence more often after a passive or an OVS sentence than after a conjoined noun phrase or active sentence. Passives and OVS sentences are syntactically unrelated but share information structure, in that both assign emphasis to the patient. We therefore argued that bilinguals construct a language-independent level of information structure during speech.
- Information structure
- Language production