Lexical preference in second dialect acquisition in a second language

Ksenia Gnevsheva*, Anita Szakay, Sandra Jansen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims and objectives/purpose/research questions:
How does second dialect acquisition in a second language compare to that in a first language in terms of rates and predictors of second dialect vocabulary use?

A lexical preference task was completed by four groups of participants residing in Australia: first language speakers of Australian (L1D1) and American (L1D2) English, and first language speakers of Russian who acquired Australian (L2D1) and American (L2D2) English first. The participants named objects which are denoted by different words in American and Australian English (e.g. bell pepper vs capsicum).

Data and analysis:
The response was coded as either American or Australian, and percentage of use of Australian items was calculated for each group.

L1D1 used Australian words the most and L1D2 the least. L2D1 and L2D2 fell between the two L1 groups. L1D2 rate of use was predicted by proportion of life spent in Australia. L2D1 were more likely to choose Australian words if they had lived in Australia longer and had positive attitudes toward Australia. L2D2 were less likely to use Australian words the longer they had lived in the USA. Similar, but not identical, factors predict second dialect acquisition in the first and second languages.

The research is innovative in considering second dialect acquisition in second language speakers and creates a bridge between second language and second dialect acquisition research.

The finding that second language speakers may be more flexible in second dialect acquisition than first language speakers has important implications for our understanding of cognitive and social constraints on acquisition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163–180
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingualism
Issue number2
Early online date31 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022


  • second dialect acquisition
  • lexical preference
  • picture naming
  • vocabulary acquisition
  • mobile speakers
  • second language acquisition


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