L2-L1 word association in bilinguals: Direct evidence

Menenti, L. (2006). L2-L1 word association in bilinguals: Direct evidence. Nijmegen CNS, 1, 17-24.
The Revised Hierarchical Model (Kroll and Stewart, 1994) assumes that words in a bilingual’s languages have separate word form representations but shared conceptual representations. Two routes lead from an L2 word form to its conceptual representation: the word association route, where concepts are accessed through the corresponding L1 word form, and the concept mediation route, with direct access from L2 to concepts. To investigate word association, we presented proficient late German-Dutch bilinguals with L2 non-cognate word pairs in which the L1 translation of the first word rhymed with the second word (e.g. GRAP (joke) – Witz – FIETS (bike)). If the first word in a pair activated its L1 equivalent, then a phonological priming effect on the second word was expected. Priming was observed in lexical decision but not in semantic decision (living/non-living) on L2 words. In a control group of Dutch native speakers, no priming effect was found. This suggests that proficient bilinguals still make use of their L1 word form lexicon to process L2 in lexical decision.
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