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Lecture | LUCL Colloquium Series

“I wanted to … thank you and your delicious wife for your warm welcome”: Non-Isomorphic Semantic Categories in Bilinguals’ Systems

  • Virginia C. Mueller Gathercole (Florida Atlantic University)
Friday 22 November 2019
15.30 Tea and Coffee; 16.00 Lecture Drinks afterwards in LUCL Common Room, Wijkplaats 4 (top floor)
Matthias de Vrieshof
Matthias de Vrieshof 2
2311 BZ Leiden


No two languages break up the world and conceptual space into identical categorization schemes. How do bilingual speakers process words that differ in their two languages, especially when the linguistic systems cut up the semantic space differently, as in the case of dedo in Spanish subsuming both finger and toe in English?  Theories of language acquisition in bilinguals have differed in their views of the relationship between the words in bilinguals' two languages and of the nature of semantic and conceptual knowledge. Behavioral and eye tracking evidence from simultaneous and early L2 bilinguals indicates that type of category, width of category, and age of acquisition all influence the nature of semantic processing in bilinguals. The data further suggest that the greatest level of semantic convergence occurs in fully balanced simultaneous bilinguals.  The data have implications for the differentiation of semantic and cognitive levels of knowledge.

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