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.

Full Text:



Altarriba, J. & Heredia, J. (2014). Introduction: Bilingual Memory Representation. In Foundations of bilingual memory. Eds. R. Heredia and J. Altarriba. New York, NY: Springer New York. doi:10.1007/978-1-4614-9218-4

Amengual, M. (2012). Interlingual influence in bilingual speech: Cognate status effect in a continuum of bilingualism. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 15(3), 1-14. doi:10.1017/S1366728911000460

Antoniou, M., Best, C. T., Tyler, M. D., & Kroos, C. (2010). Language context elicits

native-like stop voicing in early bilinguals’ productions in both L1 and L2. Journal of Phonetics, 38, 640–653.

Baslight-Brown, D.M. (2014). Models of Lexical Access and Bilingualism. In Foundations of bilingual memory. Eds. R. Heredia and J. Altarriba. New York, NY: Springer New York. doi:10.1007/978-1-4614-9218-4

Braver, T. S. (2012). The variable nature of cognitive control: A dual mechanisms framework. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 16, 106

Caramazza, A. (1997). How many levels of processing are there in lexical access? Cognitive Neuropsychology, 14, 177–208.

Child, J. (2010). Introduction to Spanish Translation, 3rd Ed. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

Costa, A. (2005). Lexical access in bilingual production. Handbook of bilingualism:

Psycholinguistic approaches, ed. by Judith Kroll and Annette de Groot, 308-325. New York: Oxford.

Costa, A., Heij, W. L., & Navarrete, E. (2006). The dynamics of bilingual lexical access. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 9(2), 137-151. doi:10.1017/S1366728906002495

Costa, A., Miozzo, M. & Caramazza, A. (1999). Lexical selection in bilinguals: Do words in bilingual's lexicon compete for selection? Journal of Memory and Language 41.365-397.

Costa, A., & Santesteban, M. (2004). Lexical access in bilingual speech production: Evidence from language switching in highly proficient bilinguals and L2 learners. Journal of Memory and Language, 50(4), 491-511. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2004.02.002

Cuppini, C., Magosso, E., & Ursino, M. (2013). Learning the lexical aspects of a second language at different proficiencies: A neural computational study. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 16(2), 1-22. doi:10.1017/S1366728911000617

de Bot, K., Cox, A., Ralston, S., Schaufeli, A., & Weltens, B. (1995). Lexical processing in bilinguals. Second Language Research, 11(1), 1-19. doi:10.1177/026765839501100101

de Bot, K., & Jaensch, C. (2015). What is special about L3 processing? Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 18(2), 130-144.

Bybee, J. (2001). Phonology and language use. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bybee, J. (2013). Usage-based theory and exemplar representations of constructions. In The Oxford Handbook of Construction Grammar, Eds. T. Hoffmann and G. Trousdale, New York: Oxford University Press.

De Groot, A. M. B., Borgwaldt, S., Bos, M., & van den Eijnden, E. (2002). Lexical decision and word naming in bilinguals: Language effects and task effects. Journal of Memory and Language, 47 (1), 91–124.

De Groot, A. M. B., Delmaar, P., & Lupker, S. J. (2000). The processing of interlexical homographs in translation recognition and lexical decision: Support for non-selective access to bilingual memory. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section A, 53(2), 397. doi:10.1080/713755891

De Groot, A.M.B. & Nas, G.L.J. (1991). “Lexical representation of cognates and noncognates in compound bilinguals”, Journal of Memory and Language 30: 90–123.

Desmet, T., & Duyck, W. (2007). Bilingual language processing. Language and Linguistics Compass, 1(3), 168-194. doi:10.1111/j.1749-818X.2007.00008.x

Dijkstra, T., Van Hell, J. G., & Brenders, P. (2014). Sentence context effects in bilingual word recognition: Cognate status, sentence language, and semantic constraint. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, , 1-17. doi:10.1017/S1366728914000388

Dijkstra, A. & van Heuven, W. (1998). “The BIA–model and bilingual word recognition”, in: J. Grainger and A. Jacobs (eds.), 189–225.

Dijkstra, A. & van Heuven, W.J.B.. (2002). “The architecture of the bilingual word recognition system: From identification to decision”, Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 5: 175-197.

Dunlap, S., Chen, B., Zhou, H., & Yang, M. (2010). Language nonselective access to phonological representations: Evidence from Chinese-English bilinguals. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 63(10), 2051-2066. doi:10.1080/17470211003718705

Finkbeiner, M., Almeida, J., Janssen, N., & Caramazza, A. (2006). Lexical selection in bilingual speech production does not involve language suppression. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 32(5), 1075-1089. doi:10.1037/0278-7393.32.5.1075

Johnston, M. C. (1941). Spanish-English cognates of high frequency. The Modern Language Journal, 25(5), 405-417. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4781.1941.tb03031.x

Gahl, S & Yu, A.C.L.. (2006). Introduction to the special issue on exemplar-based models in linguistics. The Linguistic Review 23 (2006), 213–216.

Green, D. & Abutalebi, J. (2013). Language Controls in Bilinguals: The adaptive control hypothesis, Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 25(5), 515-530, doi: 10.1080/20445911.2013.796377

Heredia, R.R. (2008). “Mental models of bilingual memory.” In J. Altarriba and R.R. Heredia, Eds., 39–67.

Kroll, J. F., & Stewart, E. (1994). Category interference in translation and picture naming: Evidence for asymmetric connections between bilingual memory representations. Journal of Memory and Language, 33, 149–174.

Leech, G., Rayson, P., & Wilson, A. (2001). Word Frequencies in Written and Spoken English. Malaysia, Longman.

Lemhöfer, K., Dijkstra, A., & Michel, M. (2004). Three languages, one ECHO: Cognate effects in trilingual word recognition. Language and Cognitive Processes, 19, 585– 611.

Midgley, K. J., Holcomb, P. J., & Grainger, J. (2011). Effects of cognate status on word comprehension in second language learners: An ERP investigation. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23(7), 1634-1647. doi:10.1162/jocn.2010.21463

Miller, M. M., & Farr, G. (1939). Student recognition of some Spanish-English cognates. The Modern Language Journal, 24(3), 216-220. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4781.1939.tb02902.x

Morsella, E. & Miozzo, M. (2002). Evidence for a Cascade Model of Lexical Access in Speech Production. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and

Cognition, 28 (3), 555-563.

Pivneva, I., Palmer, C., & Titone, D. (2012). Inhibitory control and L2 proficiency modulate bilingual language production: Evidence from spontaneous monologue and dialogue speech. Frontiers in Psychology, 3 (57). doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00057

Sánchez-Casas, R., Davis, C., & García-Albea, J. (1992). Bilingual lexical processing: Exploring the cognate– noncognate distinction. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 4, 293–310.

Schwieter, J. W., & Sunderman, G. (2008). Language switching in bilingual speech production: In search of the language-specific selection mechanism. The Mental Lexicon, 3 (2), 214–238.

Schwieter, J. & Sunderman, G. (2011). Inhibitory control processes and lexical access in trilingual speech production. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, 1(4), 391–412. doi10.1075/lab.1.4.02sch

Schwieter, J. (2013). Lexical inhibition in trilingual speakers. In Proceedings of The 24th Scandinavian Conference of Linguistics. Publications of the University of Eastern Finland: Reports and Studies in Education, Humanities, and Theology, 249-260. Joensuu, Finland: University of Eastern Finland Press

Sunderman, G., & Kroll, J. F. (2006). First language activation during second language lexical processing: An investigation of lexical form, meaning, and grammatical class. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 28(3), 387-422. doi:10.1017/S0272263106060177

Szubko-Sitarek, W. (2015). Multilingual lexical recognition in the mental lexicon of third language users. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-32194-8

Van Hell, J.G. & De Groot, A.M.B. (2008). “Sentence context modulates visual word recognition and translation in bilinguals.” Acta Psychologica 128: 431–451.

Van Hell, J.G. & Dijkstra, T. (2002). “Foreign language knowledge can influence native language performance in exclusively native contexts”, Psychonomic Bulletin and Review 9: 780–789.

Yudes, C., Macizo, P., & Bajo, T. (2010). Cognate effects in bilingual language comprehension tasks. Neuroreport, 21(7), 507-512. doi:10.1097/WNR.0b013e328338b9e1



  • There are currently no refbacks.

This journal and its papers are published with the Creative Commons License Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). You are free to share copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format if you: give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made; don’t use our material for commercial purposes; don’t remix, transform, or build upon the material.

Indexed in: DOAJLinguistics Abstracts Online,Google ScholarsMLA Bibliography - Language, Linguistics and LiteratureOpen J-Gate,Directory of Research Journals Indexing, EBSCOProQueste-Revist@sPublindexERICEmerging Sources Citation IndexORE (Open-Access Research in English Language Teaching)Cabell's International (The White List)Red Iberoamericana de Innovación y Conocimiento Científico (Redib)