Co-activation in the bilingual lexicon: Evidence from Chinese-English bilinguals
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Investigation of the bilingual mental lexicon suggests that one of its defining characteristics is integration. Words across both languages are subject to parallel co-activation during language processing. An auditory stimulus typing task was used to assess connectivity on the basis of both morphology and phonology. English loanwords in Chinese and transparent English noun-noun compounds with Chinese translation equivalents with corresponding compound structure (corresponding compounds) were used as the critical stimuli. Accent was also manipulated to determine whether or not phonological cues may influence the degree of cross-linguistic co-activation. Results suggest cross-linguistic co-activation on the basis of phonological overlap in different script bilinguals but only weakly supported morphological integration in Chinese-English bilinguals. Accent led to greater co-activation of phonologically similar loanword pairs. Results are discussed in terms of inhibitory control, language acquisition, and the structure of the bilingual lexicon.