The reduced embodiment of a second language

Tal Norman, Orna Peleg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Substantial evidence indicates that first language (L1) comprehension involves embodied visual simulations. The present study tested the assumption that a formally learned second language (L2), which is less related to real-life experiences, is processed in a less embodied manner relative to a naturally acquired L1. To this end, bilingual participants completed the same task in their L1 and L2. In the task, they read sentences and decided immediately after each sentence whether a pictured object had been mentioned in the preceding sentence. Responses were significantly faster when the shape of the object in the picture matched rather than mismatched the sentence-implied shape, but only in the L1, and only when the L1 block was performed before the L2 block. These findings suggest that embodied visual simulations are reduced in a formally learned L2 and may be subjected to cross-language influences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)406-416
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - 14 May 2022


  • Cross-language influences
  • Embodied cognition
  • L1-L2 processing differences
  • L2 sentence comprehension
  • Sentence picture verification task

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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