Examining the Bilingual Mental Lexicon through Associative Priming
AuthorRollins, Matthew, Perham
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AbstractResearch examining the associations between words in the monolingual versus bilingual mind has employed various models to examine differences in lexical organization, with varying degrees of success. The paradigms used have primarily been word association and semantic priming with a Lexical Decision Task (LDT). This thesis research has focused on the latter method, with an online data collection method using Testable. One distinction of this thesis research has been the types of semantic associations used for priming, namely syntagmatic and paradigmatic associations, which refer to either word context in a sentence, or word categories respectively. The control condition used from which facilitation effects were calculated was unrelated primes. In addition, a phonetic (or “clang”) priming condition was included as it was felt that it might tap into an important aspect of lexical organization for those who have English as a second language (L2). Recruitment was for native English-speaking monolinguals, native English-speaking bilinguals (who also speak a variety of other languages), and non-native English-speaking bilinguals (also from a range of language backgrounds) to participate. Results indicated that the paradigm was successful in gathering information about lexical associations in all three language groups. There was significant semantic facilitation across all language groups for both syntagmatic and paradigmatic associative primes, with these effects not differing from each other. Interestingly, only the L2 group showed significant facilitation from clang primes. Overall, the absolute priming effect was smaller than anticipated, despite reaching statistical reliability, suggesting possibilities to refine the display times of primes or targets. Other hypotheses concerned potential effects of participants’ context for L2 language learning and also attempts to address the main research question with the use of a classic word association task; however, both fell victim to the vagaries of online data collection. Nevertheless, the method and the software provide some hope for continued research in some aspects of the monolingual versus bilingual mental lexicon.
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