Volume 6, Issue 3
  • ISSN 1879-9264
  • E-ISSN: 1879-9272
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The current study investigated how language experience impacts phonologically-mediated meaning activation. Monolinguals and bilinguals made living/non-living judgments on English homophones (e.g., beech, beach) while Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) were recorded. Context was manipulated by making the preceding trial either unrelated (e.g., servant → beech) or semantically-related, creating priming. The related context either strengthened (e.g., oak → beech) or diminished (e.g., oak → beach) a homophone’s meaning. In the unrelated context, both groups utilized phonology similarly to access meaning, as evidenced by a later N400 and a larger late positive component (LPC) for homophones than for non-homophonic words. However, when the context primed the incorrect meaning (e.g., oak → beach), only monolinguals exhibited N400 attenuation and delayed LPCs, indicating that they were mistakenly using phonology and context to access meaning and were then required to reanalyze their interpretation. These results provide insight into how oral language experience impacts phonological activation of meaning.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Bilingualism; Homophones; Phonology; Semantics; Visual Word Recognition
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