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Tip-of-the-tongue states in Hebrew–English bilinguals

  • Tamar H. Gollan (a1) and Nina B. Silverberg (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 May 2001

Tip-of-the-tongue states (TOTs) in proficient Hebrew–English bilinguals were compared to those of age-matched monolinguals. Monolinguals retrieved words in English, and bilinguals retrieved words from both languages. Results showed an increased TOT rate in bilinguals. However, bilinguals demonstrated comparable rates of spontaneous resolution, and similar ability to access partial information about target words. Interestingly, bilinguals named the same number of targets as monolinguals when naming an item in either language was counted as a correct response. Besides bilingualism, other factors that predicted TOT rate included word frequency (only for bilinguals), and age (younger participants had more TOTs). Unexpectedly, TOTs for Hebrew targets were not characterized by increased access to grammatical gender and number of syllables relative to control states, thus contrasting notably with TOTs for Italian and English targets respectively. We discuss these results in terms of their relevance for constraining models of bilingual lexical access and models of TOT.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Center for Research in Language, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, 0526, La Jolla, CA 92093-0526, USA. E-mail:
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This research was supported in part by Training Grant DC01409 from NIDCD to the National Center for Neurogenic Communications Disorders, by a McDonnell-Pew grant (both at the University of Arizona), and by Training Grant DC00041-06, also from NIDCD, to the Center for Research on Language at the University of California, San Diego. We would like to thank Judith F. Kroll and Wendy Francis for valuable comments on an earlier version of this article, and for their assistance in carrying out this research we also thank Morton Ann Gernsbacher and Gilead Morahg (UWisconsin-Madison), Merrill F. Garrett (UAZ), and Shmuel Bolotsky (UMASS).
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Bilingualism: Language and Cognition
  • ISSN: 1366-7289
  • EISSN: 1469-1841
  • URL: /core/journals/bilingualism-language-and-cognition
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