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Article

A case for agreement: Processing of case-inflected nouns by early and late learners

Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism. 2019. Vol. 9. No. 1. P. 6-41.
Gor K., Chrabaszcz A., Cook S.

Previous research on Russian nominal inflection reports a processing advantage for the Nominative case, the citation form, in native and highly proficient nonnative speakers (Gor, Chrabaszcz, & Cook, 2017). However, it remains unclear whether this advantage is present only in single-word presentation, or it is a fundamental property of lexical storage and access. Moreover, it is unknown whether the processing costs for different cases in native and nonnative word recognition reflect the hierarchical structure of the nominal paradigm where cases have different functional load and type frequency. We report two lexical decision experiments with cross-modal morphosyntactic priming, which compare the processing of case-inflected noun targets preceded by adjective primes with ambiguous oblique-case inflections by native speakers, early (heritage) and late learners of Russian. While all groups showed a processing advantage for the citation form, only native speakers and highly proficient late learners were sensitive to the oblique-case type frequency hierarchy.