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Word frequency predicts translation asymmetry

Varley, RA; Ibrahim, A; Cowell, PE; (2017) Word frequency predicts translation asymmetry. Journal of Memory and Language , 95 pp. 49-67. 10.1016/j.jml.2017.02.001. Green open access

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Abstract

Bilingualism studies report asymmetries in word processing across languages. Access to L2 words is slower and sensitive to semantic blocking. These observations inform influential models of bilingual processing, which propose autonomous lexicons with different processing routes. In a series of experiments, we explored an alternative hypothesis that the asymmetries are due to frequency of use. Using a within-language ‘translation’ task, involving high/low frequency (HF/LF) synonyms, we obtained parallel results to bilingual studies. Experiment 1 revealed that HF synonyms were accessed faster than LF ones. Experiment 2 showed that semantic blocking slowed retrieval only of LF synonyms, while form blocking produced powerful interference of both HF and LF words. Experiment 3 examined translation speed and sensitivity to blocking in two groups of Russian-English bilinguals who differed in frequency of use of their languages. Translation asymmetries were modulated by frequency of use. The results support an integrated lexicon model of bilingual processing.

Type: Article
Title: Word frequency predicts translation asymmetry
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.jml.2017.02.001
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2017.02.001
Language: English
Additional information: © 2016. This manuscript version is published under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Non-derivative 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). This licence allows you to share, copy, distribute and transmit the work for personal and non-commercial use providing author and publisher attribution is clearly stated. Further details about CC BY licences are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0. Access may be initially restricted by the publisher.
Keywords: Bilingualism; Frequency effects; Translation asymmetry; Language dominance; RHM
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Language and Cognition
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1542256
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