Priming asymmetries in Chinese-English bilinguals: A series of single-subject studies
AuthorDudsic, Jeffrey Adam
AdvisorForster, Kenneth I.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis study explores the underlying cognitive structure of a small number of bilinguals, seeking to determine whether or not it is cognitively possible to develop symmetrically conceptual mediation between the two languages of a bilingual. Previous research has consistently found asymmetries in response and priming times in experiments with bilinguals. The pattern of these asymmetries and the conditions under which they were obtained, have motivated the development of the current model of bilingual representation and processing, the Revised Hierarchical Model (RHM) of Kroll and Stewart (1994). Level of proficiency has been an important factor in explaining the asymmetric connections posited by this model, arguing that the more proficient bilinguals become, the more heavily they rely on conceptual mediation between the two languages. This account implies that a bilingual who began learning both languages from early childhood would develop a fully, conceptually mediated system of language interconnection. This symmetry in lexical architecture would be reflected in symmetric, as opposed to asymmetric priming effects in cross-language tasks. In order to test this prediction, a series of single-subject, cross-language experiments were conducted with three native, and two non-native Chinese-English bilinguals. Masked priming was used in both lexical decision and episodic recognition tasks. It was reasoned that if the hypothesized asymmetric structure of the RHM is truly a consequence of proficiency, that the native bilinguals would show symmetric priming effects, and the non-natives asymmetric effects. On the other hand, if the asymmetric structure of the RHM is not a consequence of proficiency, both native and non-native bilinguals would show asymmetric priming effects. Among both the native and later-learning bilinguals, a consistent pattern of asymmetric priming was found in lexical decision utilizing the same presentation procedures which produced within-language priming. Cross-language episodic recognition tasks followed the same asymmetric pattern of priming. These results suggest that the levels and types of interconnection between a bilingual's two lexicons, while affected by proficiency, are not absolutely determined by it. It is concluded that the development of symmetrical conceptual mediation between the two languages of a bilingual may not be possible.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Second Language Acquisition and Teaching