Universiteit Leiden

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Lecture | LACG Meetings

Do bilinguals regularly activate the language that they are not using?

Thursday 1 June 2023
LACG Meetings
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden
2.11 (& Microsoft Teams)


Almost all researchers claim that bilinguals access both of their languages, even when they are just comprehending or producing one of them.  In this talk, we critically review the range of evidence used to support this claim and argue that it is compatible with an alternative (selective) account in which bilinguals consider only the language they are currently using.  For example, we suggest that studies showing priming between unrelated words whose translations are related can be explained by transfer during learning, and studies suggesting that cognates are facilitated in comparison to non-cognates can be explained by facilitated acquisition.  We also consider a range of other phenomena from comprehension and production that do not necessarily support language non-selectivity.  We argue that such learning may occur during early acquisition and then simply be turned off, or it may continue as a consequence of language use in a two-language mode.  We discuss the implications of the account for bilingual language use more generally.

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