Sublexical modulation of simultaneous language activation in bilingual visual word recognitionThe role of syllabic units

  1. Markus Conrad
  2. Carlos Javier Álvarez González
  3. Olivia Afonso
  4. Arthur M. Jacobs
Journal:
Bilingualism: Language and cognition

ISSN: 1366-7289

Year of publication: 2015

Volume: 18

Issue: 4

Pages: 696-712

Type: Article

Export: RIS

Abstract

We addressed the question of whether syllabic units of the presented language would activate words containing these syllables in the nonpresented language. In two lexical decision experiments using Spanish and German words presented to two groups of late Spanish–German and German–Spanish bilinguals and to two monolingual control groups, target words’ syllable-frequency in the nonpresented language was manipulated. Inhibitory effects of syllable-frequency in the nonpresented language were found only when Spanish–German bilinguals read German L2 words– suggesting that L2 sublexical syllabic units activated L1 syllabic neighbors’ representations that would interfere with L2 target processing. On the contrary, no inhibitory effects but rather a facilitation tendency due to syllable-frequency from the nonpresented German language was obtained for both groups of bilinguals reading Spanish words. This dissociation concerning the spread of activation from sublexical units to lexical representations from bilinguals’ two languages is discussed in terms of structural differences between the two languages.