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Article

Comprehension of locative and instrumental constructions by Russian-American heritage speakers: Testing predictions of the Isomorphic Mapping Hypothesis

The Russian Journal of Cognitive Science. 2017. Vol. 4. No. 4. P. 14-21.

 

 The present study examines whether Russian-American heritage speakers benefit from the isomorphic mapping between a syntactic structure and its corresponding motor event (motor stereotype) during the comprehension of locative and instrumental constructions in Russian, their heritage language. Participants performed a picture-sentence matching task, during which they saw pairs of images on a computer screen and were required to choose the picture that matched the sentence that they heard. The sentences included locative and instrumental constructions with isomorphic or non-isomorphic mapping between the syntactic structure (direct or inverted word order) and the corresponding motor event (isomorphic or non-isomorphic motor stereotype). The results call into question the predictions of the Isomorphic Mapping Hypothesis and reveal that heritage speakers, at least those with a lower proficiency in their heritage language, are more sensitive to syntactic cues (word order) than isomorphism. The findings are explained within the framework of language transfer