Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

The Multilingual Lexicon: The Cognitive and Neural Basis of Lexical Comprehension and Production in Two or More Languages

Abstract

Recent studies have shown that when bilinguals or multilinguals read written words, listen to spoken words, or plan words that they intend to speak in one language alone, information in all of the languages that they know is momentarily active. That activation produces cross-language competition that sometimes converges to facilitate performance and sometimes diverges to create costs to performance. The presence of parallel activation across languages has been documented in comprehension, in studies of word recognition, and also in production, in studies of lexical speech planning. The observation that one of the two or more languages cannot be switched off at will is particularly surprising in production, where the intention to express a thought should be guided by conceptually driven processes. Likewise, in comprehension, recent studies show that placing words in sentence context in one language alone is insufficient to restrict processing to that language. The focus of current research on the multilingual lexicon is therefore to understand the basis of language nonselectivity, to consider how the language in use is ultimately selected, and to identify the cognitive consequences of having a lexical system that is open to influence by the languages not in use. In this article, we review the recent cognitive and neural evidence on each of these issues, with special consideration to the question of how the nature of the evidence itself shapes the conclusions drawn about the organization and access to the lexicon in individuals who speak more than one language.

Copyright
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

E. Bialystok , F. I. M. Craik , D. W. Green , & T. H. Gollan (2009). Bilingual minds. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 10, 89129.

J. McLaughlin , L. Osterhout , & A. Kim (2004). Neural correlates of second-language word learning: Minimal instruction produces rapid change. Nature Neuroscience, 7, 703704.

J. Abutalebi , & D. W. Green (2007). Bilingual language production: The neurocognition of language representation and control. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 20, 242275.

R. P. Alvarez , P. J. Holcomb , & J. Grainger (2003). Accessing word meaning in two languages: An event-related brain potential study of beginning bilinguals. Brain and Language, 87, 290304.

A. M. De Groot , & R. Keijzer (2000). What is hard to learn is easy to forget: The roles of word concreteness, cognate status, and word frequency in foreign-language vocabulary learning and forgetting. Language Learning, 50, 156.

T. Dijkstra , & W. J. B. Van Heuven (2002). The architecture of the bilingual word recognition system: From identification to decision. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 5, 175197.

G. Garbin , A. Sanjuan , C. Forn , J. C. Bustamante , A. Rodriguez-Pujadas , Belloch et al., . . . (2010). Bridging language and attention: Brain basis of the impact of bilingualism on cognitive control. NeuroImage, 53, 12721278.

T. Gollan , R. Montoya , C. Cera , & T. Sandoval (2008). More use almost always means a smaller frequency effect: Aging, bilingualism, and the weaker links hypothesis. Journal of Memory and Language, 58, 787814.

T. H. Gollan , T. Sandoval , & D. P. Salmon (2011). Cross-language intrusion errors in aging bilinguals reveal the link between executive control and language selection. Psychological Science, 22, 11551164.

N. Hoshino , & J. F. Kroll (2008). Cognate effects in picture naming: Does cross-language activation survive a change of script? Cognition, 106, 501511.

J. S. Johnson , & E. L. Newport (1989). Critical period effects in second language learning: The influence of maturational state on the acquisition of English as a second language. Cognitive Psychology, 21, 6099.

J. F. Kroll , & E. Stewart (1994). Category interference in translation and picture naming: Evidence for asymmetric connections between bilingual memory representations. Journal of Memory and Language, 33, 149174.

M. Kutas , & K. D. Federmeier (2011). Thirty years and counting: Finding meaning in the N400 component of the event-related brain potential (ERP). Annual Review of Psychology, 62, 621–47.

J. A. Linck , J. F. Kroll , & G. Sunderman (2009). Losing access to the native language while immersed in a second language: Evidence for the role of inhibition in second language learning. Psychological Science, 20, 15071515.

J. L. McClelland , & D. E. Rumelhart (1981). An interactive activation model of context effects in letter perception, Part 1: An account of basic findings. Psychological Review, 88, 375405.

K. J. Midgley , P. J. Holcomb , & J. Grainger (2011). Effects of cognate status on word comprehension in second language learners: An ERP investigation. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23, 16341647.

M. Misra , T. Guo , S. C. Bobb , & J. F. Kroll (2012). When bilinguals choose a single word to speak: Electrophysiological evidence for inhibition of the native language. Journal of Memory and Language, 67, 224237.

J. P. Morford , E. Wilkinson , A. Villwock , P. Piñar , & J. F. Kroll (2011). When deaf signers read English: Do written words activate their sign translations? Cognition, 118, 286292.

C. Papagno , & G. Vallar (1995). Verbal short-term memory and vocabulary learning in polyglots. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 48, 98107.

T. Piske , I. MacKay , & J. Flege (2001). Factors affecting degree of foreign accent in an L2: A review. Journal of Phonetics, 29, 191215.

G. Raboyeau , K. Marcotte , D. Adrover-Roig , & A. I. Ansaldo (2010). Brain activation and lexical learning: The impact of learning phase and word type. NeuroImage, 49, 28502861.

G. Raboyeau , N. Marie , S. Balduyck , H. Gros , J. Demonet , & D. Cardebat (2004). Lexical learning of the English language: A PET study in healthy French subjects. NeuroImage, 22, 18081818.

A. Rodriguez-Fornells , M. Rotte , H. J. Heinze , T. Noesselt , & T. F. Muente (2002). Brain potential and functional MRI evidence for how to handle two languages with one brain. Nature, 415, 10261029.

R. M. Sanchez-Casas , C. W. Davis , & J. E. Garcia-Albea (1992). Bilingual lexical processing: Exploring the cognate/non-cognate distinction. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 4, 293310.

A. Schwartz , J. F. Kroll , & M. Diaz (2007). Reading words in Spanish and English: Mapping orthography to phonology in two languages. Language and Cognitive Processes, 22, 106129.

G. Thierry , & Y. J. Wu (2007). Brain potentials reveal unconscious translation during foreign-language comprehension. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104, 1253012535.

E. Van Assche , W. Duyck , R. J. Hartsuiker , & K. Diependaele (2009). Does bilingualism change native-language reading? Cognate effects in a sentence context. Psychological Science, 20, 923927.

J. G. Van Hell , & A. M. B. De Groot (2008). Sentence context modulates visual word recognition and translation in bilinguals. Acta Psychologica, 128, 431451.

J. G. Van Hell , & T. Dijkstra (2002). Foreign language knowledge can influence native language performance in exclusively native contexts. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 9, 780789.

J. G. Van Hell , & A. C. Mahn (1997). Keyword mnemonics versus rote rehearsal: Learning concrete and abstract foreign words by experienced and inexperienced learners. Language Learning, 47, 507546.

Y. Wang , G. Xue , C. Chen , F. Xue , & Q. Dong (2007). Neural bases of asymmetric language switching in second-language learners: an ER-fMRI study. NeuroImage, 35, 862870.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Annual Review of Applied Linguistics
  • ISSN: 0267-1905
  • EISSN: 1471-6356
  • URL: /core/journals/annual-review-of-applied-linguistics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 10
Total number of PDF views: 176 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 431 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 23rd August 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.