Other Talks

Daniel Olson (University of Texas, Austin)
Bilingual Language Selection: The effects of context and dominance on lexical access

Recent psycholinguistic research has demonstrated an asymmetrical "switching cost," such that bilinguals are slower when switching into their dominant language (e.g. Meuter & Allport, 1999). These counter-intuitive results, have been used to support theories regarding the cognitive mechanisms governing language switching (e.g. Inhibitory Control). The current study investigates the plasticity of switching costs as a means to understanding how bilinguals control their competing languages.

Thirty Spanish-English bilinguals (10 Spanish-dominant;10 English-dominant; 10 early bilinguals) participated in a cued picture-naming task, such that background color indicated language to be used. Each target picture, was named in both a switch condition, preceded by the opposite language, and non-switch condition. Stimuli were presented in 3 language contexts, varying in the probability of switching languages.

The results, discussed by condition (switch/non-switch) and context, highlight the importance of considering language context in the study of bilingualism, and add to the emerging research on the cognitive mechanisms governing language switching.

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