Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor's Name

Dr. Virginia C. Mueller Gathercole

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Dr. Tometro Hopkins

Second Advisor's Committee Title

committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Dr. Feryal Yavas

Third Advisor's Committee Title

committee member


polysemy, cognates, translation, SLA, late bilinguals, adult language learner

Date of Defense



Do adult L2 English bilingual speakers have difficulty with cognate words whose meanings are distinct across their two languages? This study explored the extent to which variations in meaning in cross-language cognates affect translation performance in a translation task by L2 English (L1 Spanish) speakers who learned English as adults. A prep-phase experiment was conducted to test native English-speakers’ predicted completions of the study’s stimuli sentences, in order to choose the optimal stimuli for the primary experiment. The method for the primary experiment of this study consisted of a web-based translation task of 120 sentences from Spanish to English, while controlling for polysemy and frequency. The results showed that adult L2 learners of English did experience difficulty when translating cognates in sentences from their L1 to their L2. The interaction of the Spanish word’s polysemous nature, Spanish word frequency, English target frequency and English cognate frequency played a role in the participants’ performance.




Final - per UGS email 12/5/16



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