What is special about L3 processing?

de Bot, C. L. J. K. & Jaensch, C., 11-Apr-2015, In : Bilingualism: Language and Cognition. 18, 2, p. 130-144 15 p.

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While research on third language (L3) and multilingualism has recently shown remarkable growth, the fundamental question of what makes trilingualism special compared to bilingualism, and indeed monolingualism, continues to be evaded. In this contribution we consider whether there is such a thing as a true monolingual, and if there is a difference between dialects, styles, registers and languages. While linguistic and psycholinguistic studies suggest differences in the processing of a third, compared to the first or second language, neurolinguistic research has shown that generally the same areas of the brain are activated during language use in proficient multilinguals. It is concluded that while from traditional linguistic and psycholinguistic perspectives there are grounds to differentiate monolingual, bilingual and multilingual processing, a more dynamic perspective on language processing in which development over time is the core issue, leads to a questioning of the notion of languages as separate entities in the brain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-144
Number of pages15
JournalBilingualism: Language and Cognition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 11-Apr-2015


  • bilingualism, language processing, multilingualism, third language (L3)

ID: 42130394