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Vocabulary size, translation equivalents, and efficiency in word recognition in very young bilinguals


The present study examined early vocabulary development in fifty-nine French monolingual and fifty French–English bilingual infants (1;4–1;6). Vocabulary comprehension was assessed using both parental report (MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory; CDI) and the Computerized Comprehension Task (CCT). When assessing receptive vocabulary development using parental report, the bilinguals knew more words in their L1 versus their L2. However, young bilinguals were as accurate in L1 as they were in L2 on the CCT, and exhibited no difference in speed of word comprehension across languages. The proportion of translation equivalents in comprehension varied widely within this sample of young bilinguals and was linked to both measures of vocabulary size but not to speed of word retrieval or exposure to L2. Interestingly, the monolinguals outperformed the bilinguals with respect to accuracy but not reaction time in their L1 and L2. These results highlight the importance of using multiple measures to assess early vocabulary development.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Diane Poulin-Dubois, Concordia – Psychology, 7141 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal, Quebec H4B 1R6, Canada. e-mail:
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Journal of Child Language
  • ISSN: 0305-0009
  • EISSN: 1469-7602
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-child-language
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