Cognitive aspects of bilingualism
A unique feature of this book is that chapters favor that line of cognitive linguistics which makes a clear distinction between real world and projected world. Information conveyed by language must be about the projected world. Both the experimental results and the systematic claims in this volume call for a weak form of whorfianism. Also, chapters add some relatively unexplored issues of bilingualism to the well-known ones, such as gender systems in the bilingual mind, context and task, synergic concepts, blending, the relationship between lexical categorization and ontological categorization among others.
Research addressing the possible consequences of bilingualism for individuals’ creative abilities has revealed a contradiction between the experimental findings of bilinguals’ superiority on the creativity tasks and the real life observations of no significant relationship between being bilingual and being creative. The present study makes an attempt to resolve this contradiction and investigates a possible effect that bilingualism might have on creative abilities. Three factors in cross-linguistic and cross-cultural experiences of bilingual individuals are examined: language proficiency, age of second language acquisition, and experience and participation in two cultures. The empirical study with Russian-English bilingual immigrants living in the United States and English monolingual native speakers revealed that cross-linguistic factors in bilinguals’ development had an influence on their divergent thinking abilities, which is necessary but sufficient component of creative thought. These findings suggest that although bilingualism may lay the foundation of creative thinking it does not necessary imply being creative. To account for these findings, a cross-language transfer is proposed as a cognitive mechanism facilitating divergent thinking in bilinguals. 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 cross-language transfer.