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Lecture 8

Lecture 8 - Bilingualism and the Psychology of Language

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Craig Chambers

Bilingualism and the Psychology of Language Introduction - Bilingualism is the “norm” worldwide - Yet monolinguals are the reference case in most work in the psychology of language - Why? Conducting Psychological Research on Bilingualism - Issues: o What does bilingual mean? o Should bilingualism be treated as categorical or continuous? o Does it matter which languages are being considered? o Does it matter when different languages were learned? o What if person knows a 2 language but doesn’t use it? - Terminology for this class: L1 = first/native language; L2 = second nonnative language What Do We Know When We Know a Language? - Representation of linguistic knowledge in mind - Speech sounds (phonological system) o Inventory + rules of combination - Word inventory - Morphological and syntactic system (rules for combining morphemes and words in sequences) - Pragmatic knowledge (conventions of language use) Major Theme in Psychological Approaches: - The mental representation of words and concepts - Recall: word = pairing of perceptual pattern and concept - Q1: What do these “pairings” look like in the mind? Four Perspectives* on the Storage of Word meaning in Bilinguals - The first two perspectives each describe a way of framing two sides of a debate, and do not advance a specific hypothesis Shared/Interdependence Hypothesis - Each concept is associated with two perceptual patterns (one for each language, L1 and L2) - There are two versions of each concept, each with its own associated perceptual pattern - There are two complete memory stores (one for each language) Compound vs. Coordinate Bilingualism - Assumes BOTH the interdependence AND independence hypothesis are correct, but relate to DIFFERENT individuals - A) Compound bilingualism: (example: two languages learned simultaneously in same context): memory format resembles the “interdependence” view - B) Coordinate Bilingualism: (examples: two languages learned sequentially and/or in different contexts): memory format resembles the “independence” view; potential for slightly different meanings for things that would be considered translation equivalents Connectionist Approaches - Reflect a position whereby “meaning” = a bundle of semantic units that together constitute a concept - Makes distinction between concrete and abstract words o Concrete words: more likely to have overlapping memory representation for meaning o Abstract words: less likely “Revised Hierarchical Model” - Assumes the linguistic part of a word and its meaning are stored at different levels of representation - Links between linguistic and conceptual representations can vary in strength - Differences in strength of lexical links at word level: o Capture differences in translation difficulty - Differences in strength of links between words and concepts: o Capture stronger conceptual knowledge in L1 More on the Mental Representation of Words and Concepts: - Q2: What happens when bilinguals encounter a word in the course of reading or listening? - I) Language selective view: o Only the relevant lexicon for the situation is accessed - Ii) Language nonselective view: o In the earliest moments of processing, BOTH lexicons are accessed. However, the “intrusion” from the irrelevant lexicon is short-lived Background: - Spoken word recognition = a competitive process - Candidate words that are compatible with the unfolding speech input are “Activated” - As the word continues to unfold in time, words will “drop out” of the competition (become deactivated) if there is a mismatch between word and speech input - NOTE: words other than the explicitly recognized on rarely enter into conscious consideration Spivey and Marian (1999) - Tested Russian-English speakers (Russian = L1) - Expt. Conducted in English - Eye movements monitored as people followed instructions like: o “Put the marker below the cross” - The word for STAMP in Russian…. o Initial sounds overlap with English word “marker” - This object = the between language competitor object (also called the “interlingual competitor” - Tabletop contained not only a marker, but also a stamp, and two other objects whose names didn’t overlap with “mark…” - Results: o Found people (unconsciously) looked at the between language competitor on about 30% of traits! o Although they correctly selected the intended target o When the situation is reversed (language of experiment = L1; “competing” language = L2), weaker effect are found - Conclusions: o The “irrelevant” lexicon is not completely “switched off” o The intrusion from the irrelevant language is strong when it is the listener’s dominant language Additional Points: - This “activation” of the meaning of the word in the currently irrelevant lexicon is UNCONSCIOUS, not available to awareness - The same is true of the measures (eye movements) - In reading, the effect can be shown with interlingual homographs (words spelled in the same way in two languages, example: French pain/ English pain) o Typical effect: readers unconsciously slow down upon reading these words compared to words whose spelling is distinct in the active language - A converse effect is sometimes shown for cognates (words with similar spelling AND MEANING across two languages, example: French table/ English table): Readers have been shown to actually speed up! Additional question: what role is played by specific details of the sound system of different languages? Background: - Different languages sometimes have a slightly different phonetic implementation of similar sounds o Example: /p/ /t/ k/ sounds like English vs. Spanish (in a word like “car” and “casa” - Difference: amount of time between release of airstream in mouth and the point at which the vocal folds begin vibrating (Spanish /t/ sounds closer to English /d/) - VOICE ONSET TIME (VOT) Ju and Luce (2004) - Same general procedure as Spivey and Marian, with Spanish-English bilinguals o Expt conducted in Spanish o Example target word: playa (beach) o Display also contained similar sounding object: pilers (Terminology: between- language competitor) o Manipulated whether display contained between-language competitor or a control object with no sound overlap - Result: o Degree of competition from “pilers” =
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