The Effect of Speech on Errors in the Written Language in Heritage and L2 Learners of Russian

Thematic Section: Literacy in heritage languages

heritage languages, literacy, reading, writing, pedagogy

Kristina V. Litvintseva, National Research University Higher School of Economics

Тhe influence of speech on the written language in bilinguals is well-established, but little is known about the influence of speech on writing in L2 students in a multilingual setting. This study examines the written texts produced by heritage speakers (HSs) and L2 learners of Russian. HSs are more proficient than L2 learners in the spoken language whereas the latter are more proficient in writing (Au et al 2002; Saadah 2011; Montrul 2012; Marushkina, Rakhilina 2013). Our study is based on analysis of texts from students of different language proficiency in Russian (from elementary to advanced) and several dominant languages (including unrelated ones). The goal is to compare the number and types errors caused by the influence of speech (in contrast to errors of other nature) in the texts of L2 students compared to those of HSs. These are spelling errors caused by the written interpretation of speech found in both familiar and unfamiliar vocabulary items in Russian. We have classified such errors into several classes. The first class includes (1) not remembering the visual form of the word (e.g., *k zhastyu 'luckily'); (2) writing the word by ear and not distinguish such features of the consonant as sonority; (3) not hearing the effects of palatalization. The second class is hypercorrection: writing an erroneous letter corresponding to the same phoneme as the orthographically correct letter (e.g., *podarog 'gift'). The third class is based on interference from L2 speakers' first language. Such errors are reflected in (4) the rendition of the Russian [s] as the middle sound by analogy with the European [s]; and (5) non-discrimination by hearing [i] and [ᵻ], leading to the overuse of 'i'.