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Language selectivity is the exception, not the rule: Arguments against a fixed locus of language selection in bilingual speech

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 June 2006

Pennsylvania State University
Pennsylvania State University
Jagiellonian University


Bilingual speech requires that the language of utterances be selected prior to articulation. Past research has debated whether the language of speaking can be determined in advance of speech planning and, if not, the level at which it is eventually selected. We argue that the reason that it has been difficult to come to an agreement about language selection is that there is not a single locus of selection. Rather, language selection depends on a set of factors that vary according to the experience of the bilinguals, the demands of the production task, and the degree of activity of the nontarget language. We demonstrate that it is possible to identify some conditions that restrict speech planning to one language alone and others that open the process to cross-language influences. We conclude that the presence of language nonselectivity at all levels of planning spoken utterances renders the system itself fundamentally nonselective.

Research Article
Cambridge University Press 2006

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The writing of this chapter was supported in part by NSF Grant BCS-0418071 and NIH Grant MH62479 to Judith F. Kroll. We thank David Green, Janet van Hell, and an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.