Bilingual participants offer a unique opportunity to study how concepts and their relations are stored in the brain. We focus on this in the context of the spoken production of referring expressions. Previous work on reference in interaction showed that speakers adapt their descriptions to those produced earlier in the interaction. For example, when participants hear a description that contains a dispreferred attribute (such as orientation in "the chair seen from the side"), they were more likely to use that attribute in future references. The adaptation found here is claimed to take place at the conceptual level (i.e., participants adapt to the attribute "orientation" and not to the value "seen from the side"). However, so far, convincing evidence of this claim has been lacking, because it has proven difficult to rule out adaptation at the lexical or syntactic level. A crosslinguistic study was set up to provide evidence for conceptual adaptation. In our study, Spanish/Dutch bilinguals listened to Spanish descriptions that all used postmodifiers and referred in Dutch using premodifiers. The results showed that, even without syntactic or lexical cues, speakers adapted their Dutch descriptions with the (Spanish) attributes they had listened to, providing evidence for adaptation at the conceptual level.
Bibliographic reference. Vullinghs, Anne / Goudbeek, Martijn / Krahmer, Emiel (2013): "Crosslinguistic priming in interactive reference: evidence for conceptual alignment in speech production", In INTERSPEECH-2013, 798-802.