We investigated effects of crosslinguistic phonological and semantic similarity on the bilingual lexicon of late unbalanced bilinguals. Our masked priming paradigm used L1 (Russian) words as masked primes and L2 (English) words as targets. The primes and the targets either overlapped – phonologically, semantically, both phonologically and semantically – or did not overlap. Participants maintained the targets in memory and matched them against occasionally presented catch stimuli. N170 and N400 components of the word-elicited high-density ERPs were identified and analysed in signal and source space. Crosslinguistic semantic similarity shortened the reaction times. The semantics-related N400 amplitude difference correlated with individual L2 proficiency, while phonological similarity suppressed the N400 amplitude in the semantically unrelated condition. ERP source analysis suggests that these ERP dynamics are underpinned by cortical generators in the left IFG and the temporal pole. We conclude that the semantic and phonological interplay between L1 and L2 suggest an integrated bilingual lexicon.
This eye-tracking study establishes basic eye-movement benchmarks in heritage language (HL) Russian-speaking adults and adolescents of high (n = 21) and low proficiency (n = 27) who read sentences in Cyrillic and compares them with those of monolingual skilled adult readers, 8-year-old children and L2 learners. Eye-movement reading patterns of Heritage Speakers (HS) revealed longer mean fixation durations, lower skipping probability, and higher regressive saccade rates than monolingual adults. High-proficient HSs were more similar to monolingual children, while low-proficient HSs performed on par with L2 learners. Low-proficient HS differed from high-proficient HS in exhibiting lower skipping probabilities, higher fixation counts, and larger frequency effects. Taken together, our findings are consistent with the weaker links account of bilingual language processing as well as the divergent attainment theory of HL.
Polinsky and Scontras (Polinsky & Scontras), in their thought-provoking keynote article, bring together two perspectives on heritage languages, i.e., of theoretical linguistics and of psycho- linguistics, and show how they interact and enrich each other. The authors list three causes of differences (transfer from the dominant language, attrition, divergent attainment) and out- comes (avoidance of ambiguity, resistance to irregularity, shrinkage of structure) of how the heritage languages differ from their baselines, but say that they do not know whether there is “agency on the part of heritage speakers” with regards to these outcomes. In this commen- tary, we provide psycholinguistic evidence that supports Polinsky and Scontras’ idea of how important it is for psycholinguistics and the linguistic theory of heritage languages to feed each other. We show that (a) heritage speakers’ processing can diverge from the baseline in online but not offline measures, (b) transfer from the dominant language does not always hap- pen, and (c) heritage speakers can actively shape their processing that can contribute to heri- tage language restructuring in a chain reaction fashion.
Dual / multiple language use has been shown to affect cognition and its neural substrate, although the replicability of such findings varies, partially due to neglecting the role of interindividual variability in bilingual experience. To address this, we operationalized the main bilingual experience factors as continuous variables, investigating their effects on executive control performance and neural substrate deploying a Flanker task and structural magnetic resonance imaging. First, higher L2 proficiency predicted better executive performance. Second, neuroimaging results indicated that bilingualism-related neuroplasticity may peak at a certain stage of bilingual experience and eventually revert, possibly following functional specialization. Importantly, experienced bilinguals optimized behavioral performance independently of volumetric variations, suggesting a degree of performance gain even with lower GMV. Hence, the effects of bilingualism on cognition may evolve with experience, with improvements in functional efficiency eventually replacing structural changes. We conclude that individual differences in bilingual experience modulate cognitive and neural consequences of bilingualism.
DTI is an established method to study cerebral white-matter microstructure. Two established measures of DTI are fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) and both differ for bilingual and monolingual speakers. Less is known about differences in two other measures called radial (RD) and axial diffusivity (AD). We report differences in mean RD and AD-values in the right superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF) and forceps minor between bilingual (Hindi–English) and monolingual (English) speakers as well as differences in mean FA-values in the anterior thalamic radiation, right inferior fronto-occipital and inferior longitudinal fasciculus (ILF) and mean MD-values in forceps minor and bilateral SLF. Noteworthy, a positive correlation between L2 proficiency and mean RD-values in the right SLF was observed. We suggest that changes in the geometry of white matter tracts reflect regular bilingual language experience and contend that neuroplasticity in right SLF results from demands on cognitive control for bilingual speakers.
Previous research with younger adults has revealed differences between native (L1) and non-native late-bilingual (L2) speakers with respect to how morphologically complex words are processed. This study examines whether these L1/L2 differences persist into old age. We tested masked-priming effects for derived and inflected word forms in older L1 and L2 speakers of German and compared them to results from younger L1 and L2 speakers on the same experiment (mean ages: 62 vs. 24). We found longer overall response times paired with better accuracy scores for older (L1 and L2) participants than for younger participants. The priming patterns, however, were not affected by chronological age. While both L1 and L2 speakers showed derivational priming, only the L1 speakers demonstrated inflectional priming. We argue that general performance in both L1 and L2 is affected by aging, but that the more profound differences between native and non-native processing persist into old age.
When bilinguals name pictures while in ‘monolingual mode’, we expect that under conditions of language-constraint and no cognate facilitation, factors influencing lexical retrieval in monolinguals ought to exert similar effects on bilinguals. To this end, we carried out a L1-only naming task on early Hindi–English bilinguals. Results of linear mixed effects analysis reveal AoA, Familiarity, Image Agreement and Codability (availability of alternate names) to be the most significant predictors of lexical retrieval speed for early bilinguals, confirming our expectations. However, we report, for the first time, a by-subject variation in Codability for bilinguals. Implications of the results are discussed in the context of current theories of bilingual lexical access and competition. In preparation for this study, Hindi norms from bilinguals for items in the Snodgrass and Vanderwart set have been established, which will be of use for stimuli selection in experimental studies involving bilinguals.
In the current study, we examined how adult heritage and monolingual speakers of Turkish process evidentiality (the linguistic expression of information source) through finite verb inflections and time reference, expressed on non-finite participles. A sentence-verification task was used to measure participants’ sensitivity to evidentiality and time-reference violations in Turkish. Our findings showed that the heritage speakers were less accurate and slower than the monolinguals in responding to both evidentiality and time-reference violations. Also, the heritage speakers made more errors and had longer RTs when responding to evidentiality violations as compared to time-reference violations. The monolinguals had longer RTs (and more accurate responses) to time reference than to evidentiality violations. This study shows that evidentiality is susceptible to incomplete acquisition in Turkish heritage speakers. It is suggested that the requirement for simultaneous processing at different linguistic levels makes the evidentiality markers vulnerable.
The study argues that, in addition to advantages in conscious attention-demanding processing, bilinguals may also exhibit enhanced unconscious divergent thinking. To investigate this issue, the performance of Russian–English bilingual immigrants and English monolingual native speakers was compared on the Abbreviated Torrance Test for Adults, which is a traditional assessment tool of divergent thinking. The study reveals bilinguals' superiority on divergent thinking tasks that require the ability to simultaneously activate and process multiple unrelated concepts from distant categories. Divergent thinking was facilitated by bilinguals' proficiency in two languages, the age of acquisition of these languages and the length of exposure to the new cultural settings that accompanies the acquisition of a new language. A specific architecture of bilingual memory in which two lexicons are mutually linked to the shared conceptual system is theorized to facilitate the functioning of the language mediated concept activation, thereby encouraging bilinguals' divergent thinking performance.
This study explores the hypothesis that language of testing and mood states can influence creativity in bilinguals. Arabic-English bilingual speakers were induced into positive or negative mood states using film clips and recall-of-events procedures. Then, participants’ creativity was assessed with the Abbreviated Torrance Test for Adults. Participants were tested in either English or Arabic. A Picture Naming Test revealed English as participants’ stronger language and Arabic as their weaker language. Testing in English was found to enhance verbal fluency and originality, as compared to testing in Arabic. Most importantly, an interactive effect of induction (positive, negative) and language of testing (English, Arabic) on creativity emerged. The results revealed two conditions beneficial for participants’ nonverbal originality: a positive mood state when tested in English and a negative mood state when tested in Arabic. These results are discussed in light of the interactive effect of mood induction and linguistic context (stronger vs. weaker) on an individual’s creativity.
Heritage Spanish speakers and adult immigrant bilinguals listened to wh-questions with the differential object marker a (quién/a quién ‘who/whoACC’) while their eye movements across four referent pictures were tracked. The heritage speakers were less accurate than the adult immigrants in their verbal responses to the questions, leaving objects unmarked for case at a rate of 18%, but eye movement data suggested that the two groups were similar in their comprehension, with both starting to look at the target picture at the same point in the question and identifying the target sooner with a quién ‘whoACC’ than with quién ‘who’ questions.