We present a computational analysis of cognate effects on the spontaneous linguistic productions of advanced non-native speakers. Introducing a large corpus of highly competent non-native English speakers, and using a set of carefully selected lexical items, we show that the lexical choices of non-natives are affected by cognates in their native language. This effect is so powerful that we are able to reconstruct the phylogenetic language tree of the Indo-European language family solely from the frequencies of specific lexical items in the English of authors with various native languages. We quantitatively analyze non-native lexical choice, highlighting cognate facilitation as one of the important phenomena shaping the language of non-native speakers.

This content is only available as a PDF.
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For a full description of the license, please visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode.