Reverse lexical transfer in a multilingual’s spoken production in her native language
Psycho- and neurolinguistic research studies show that the languages present in the bi-/multilingual mind interact with each other. A person who has appropriated at least two languages possesses a highly complex and dynamic linguistic competence, whose inherent characteristic is cross-linguistic influence. Importantly, native languages are not spared from the influence of later appropriated non-native languages. Most studies dealing with reverse transfer focus on second language (L2) influences on the mother tongue (L1). This article takes the issue one step further, by investigating reverse transfer from three non-native languages into the mother tongue. In particular, it deals with the influence of the second language (English), the third language (German) and the fourth language (French) on the first language (Polish). The analysis of the occurrences of reverse lexical transfer observed in unstructured spoken production shows that a dominant native language may undergo influences of non-native languages, provided that they are also proficiently mastered and regularly activated. Reverse transfer is understood predominantly as a strategy resulting from the ability of a person fluent in their languages to juggle with their language competences in order to express a variety of concepts, to achieve specific communicative intentions and to compensate for temporary lexical retrieval problems.