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Bilingualism and Event Conceptualisation Patterns: Conceptual Transfer in Swedish-English Bilinguals


  • Emma Knudsen

Summary, in English

In this paper, the event conceptualisation patterns of Swedish-English bilinguals are examined. Swedish and English differ from each other with regard to the existence of grammatical aspect, which previous work has shown to affect how speakers conceptualise motion events. In bilingual speakers, we expect to see cognitive transfer from either, or both, languages. In the present study, a within-subject design was employed, as speakers performed a verbal description task once in their native language, Swedish, and once in their second language, English. Endpoint encoding was taken as an indication of underlying patterns of conceptualisation, and endpoint frequencies were compared with monolingual performances in both languages (from Athanasopoulos and Bylund (2013)). When the task was performed in English, no indication of forward transfer (L1 to L2) was found. In Swedish, however, the signs of reverse transfer (L2 to L1) were significant, though somewhat differing between subjects. Daily L2 exposure and use was found to be a prominent indicator, while no significant correlation was found between conceptual transfer and L2 proficiency or age of L2 onset. The results thus provide further evidence of conceptual transfer in bilinguals, particularly in the reverse direction, as well as highlight the role of L2 exposure in language acquisition.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Bachelor's degree


  • Languages and Literatures


  • Linguistic relativity
  • Conceptual transfer
  • Grammatical aspect
  • Endpoint encoding
  • Event conceptualisation


  • Panagiotis Athanasopoulos