The effect of second-language vocabulary on word retrieval in the native language

Eve Higby, Seamus Donnelly, Jungmee Yoon, Loraine K. Obler
2019 Bilingualism: Language and Cognition  
When bilinguals produce words in one language, their translation equivalents in the other language are thought to be activated as well. A common assumption is that this parallel co-activation produces interference, which slows down word retrieval. The current study aimed to evaluate the assumption of lexical interference during word retrieval by testing whether late Portuguese–English bilinguals were slower to name pictures in their native language when they knew the word in their second
more » ... their second language compared to when they only knew the native language label. Instead of interfering with production, knowing the second-language label facilitated speed of word retrieval in the native language for both cognate and non-cognate translation-equivalent pairs. We suggest that using the second language may provide an indirect frequency boost for translation-equivalent words in the native language. This frequency boost has both long-term and short-term effects, strengthening connections to native-language labels when the translation equivalent is retrieved.
doi:10.1017/s136672891900049x fatcat:3wka3uf7fbghfcwxlyetcnan4i