Investigating potential L3 cognate facilitation effects on L2 - A study of Spanish-English cognates in L1 speakers of Norwegian
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This study investigates the potential cognate facilitation effect from a third language (L3) onto a second language (L2). More specifically, it investigates whether L3 Spanish participants have a cognate facilitation effect when identifying translations for low-frequency English words which have high-frequency Spanish cognates. Several studies suggest that there is a cognate facilitation effect that leads to faster retrieval of cognates in the mind as opposed to non-cognates (Gascoigne, 2001; Kelley & Kohnert, 2012). Two groups of L1 Norwegian, L2 English participants were included in the study, one whose L3 was Spanish and one whose L3 was German. The participants were exposed to English low-frequency words, half of which had a Spanish high-frequency cognate and half of which were not cognates with Spanish, Norwegian or German. For each word, the participants were asked to identify a Norwegian translation equivalent from a list of four alternatives. The results showed that the L3 Spanish participants were significantly better at correctly identifying Norwegian translations for the English words which have a Spanish cognate as opposed to the non-cognates. The L3 Spanish group also significantly outperformed the L3 German participants on identifying correct translations for the cognate words. On the noncognates, however, the L3 German group did significantly better than the L3 Spanish group. These findings suggest that there is a cognate facilitation effect that is present from L3 to L2.