Cognate effect and lexical processing in English-Spanish and Spanish-English bilinguals

Meredith Jocelyn Jane McGregor


Cognates have served as a useful tool for investigating the bilingual lexicon inmany studies, but very little research has been carried out on different types ofcognates, specifically, partial cognates and their role in cross-linguistic effect.The present study examines cognate effect in the speech production and acceptabilityjudgment of two groups of highly proficient, late-onset English-Spanish(n = 12) and Spanish-English (n = 12) bilinguals within a single-language (English)context. The findings of two tasks, a production task, whereby participants wereasked to spontaneously produce synonyms to prompt words, and an acceptabilityjudgment task of a variety of sentences including use of false and partial English-Spanish cognates are reported here, framed within non-selective, integrated modelsof lexical representation. The results suggest a significant cognate effect in both bilingualgroups in both tasks compared to their monolingual counterparts with, surprisingly,greater significance demonstrated from L2 to L1 influence, particularly inproduction. These findings add to the growing support for semantic modulation atthe conceptual level of lexical processing in highly proficient bilinguals.




Bilingualism; cognate effect; lexical processing; Spanish; English.

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