Volume 11, Issue 3
  • ISSN 1879-9264
  • E-ISSN: 1879-9272
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



This study investigated the extent to which phonological and orthographic overlap between the two languages of bilinguals predicts word processing abilities in their dominant and non-dominant languages. Forty-four English-dominant L1 English-L2 Spanish speakers and Spanish-dominant Spanish heritage speakers performed a lexical decision task while reading words in English and Spanish. We calculated orthographic and phonological similarity of cognate and noncognate words using the Levenshtein distance measure. Results showed that both bilingual groups benefited from orthographic similarity when reading Spanish and English words, whereas a facilitative effect was restricted to Spanish words that shared phonology across languages. These findings suggest a different contribution of phonological and orthographic similarity in bilingual word recognition, independently of language dominance.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Balota, D. A., Yap, M. J., Hutchison, K. A., Cortese, M. J., Kessler, B., Loftis, B., … Treiman, R.
    (2007) The English Lexicon Project. Behavior Research Methods, 39(3), 445–459. doi:  10.3758/BF03193014
    https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03193014 [Google Scholar]
  2. Barr, D. J., Levy, R., Scheepers, C., & Tily, H. J.
    (2013) Random effects structure for confirmatory hypothesis testing: Keep it maximal. Journal of memory and language, 68(3). doi:  10.1016/j.jml.2012.11.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2012.11.001 [Google Scholar]
  3. Birdsong, D., Gertken, L. M., & Amengual, M.
    (2012) Bilingual language profile: An easy-to-use instrument to assess bilingualism. COERLL, University of Texas at Austin.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Brysbaert, M., Van Dyck, G., & Van de Poel, M.
    (1999) Visual word recognition in bilinguals: evidence from masked phonological priming. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 25(1), 137–148.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Caramazza, A., & Brones, I.
    (1979) Lexical access in bilinguals. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 13(4), 212–214. doi:  10.3758/BF03335062
    https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03335062 [Google Scholar]
  6. Carrasco-Ortiz, H., Midgley, K. J., & Frenck-Mestre, C.
    (2012) Are phonological representations in bilinguals language specific? An ERP study on interlingual homophones. Psychophysiology, 49(4), 531–543. doi:  10.1111/j.1469‑8986.2011.01333.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-8986.2011.01333.x [Google Scholar]
  7. Comesaña, M., Ferré, P., Romero, J., Guasch, M., Soares, A. P., & García-Chico, T.
    (2015) Facilitative effect of cognate words vanishes when reducing the orthographic overlap: The role of stimuli list composition. Journal of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 41(3), 614–635. doi:  10.1037/xlm0000065
    https://doi.org/10.1037/xlm0000065 [Google Scholar]
  8. Comesaña, M., Sánchez-Casas, R., Soares, A. P., Pinheiro, A. P., Rauber, A., Frade, S., & Fraga, I.
    (2012) The interplay of phonology and orthography in visual cognate word recognition: An ERP study. Neuroscience Letters, 529(1), 75–79. doi:  10.1016/j.neulet.2012.09.010
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2012.09.010 [Google Scholar]
  9. Costa, A., & Sebastián-Gallés, N.
    (2014) How does the bilingual experience sculpt the brain?Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 15(5), 336–345. doi:  10.1038/nrn3709
    https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn3709 [Google Scholar]
  10. de Groot, A. M. B.
    (1992) Bilingual Lexical Representation: A Closer Look at Conceptual Representations. In EnR. Frost & L. Katz (Eds.), Advances in Psychology (Vol.94, pp.389–412). North-Holland. doi:  10.1016/S0166‑4115(08)62805‑8
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0166-4115(08)62805-8 [Google Scholar]
  11. Dijkstra, T., Grainger, J., & van Heuven, W.
    (1999) Recognition of cognates and interlingual homographs: The neglected role of phonology. Journal of Memory and Language, 41(4), 496–518. 10.1006/jmla.1999.2654
    https://doi.org/10.1006/jmla.1999.2654 [Google Scholar]
  12. Dijkstra, T., Miwa, K., Brummelhuis, B., Sappelli, M., & Baayen, H.
    (2010) How cross-language similarity and task demands affect cognate recognition. Journal of Memory and Language, 62(3), 284–301. doi:  10.1016/j.jml.2009.12.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2009.12.003 [Google Scholar]
  13. Dijkstra, T., & van Heuven, W. J. B.
    (2002) The Architecture of the Bilingual Word Recognition System: From Identification to Decision. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 5(3), 175–197. 10.1017/S1366728902003012
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728902003012 [Google Scholar]
  14. Dimitropoulou, M., Duñabeitia, J. A., & Carreiras, M.
    (2011) Masked translation priming effects with low proficient bilinguals. Memory cognition, 39(2), 260–275. 10.3758/s13421‑010‑0004‑9
    https://doi.org/10.3758/s13421-010-0004-9 [Google Scholar]
  15. Duchon, A., Perea, M., Sebastián-Gallés, N., Martí, A., & Carreiras, M.
    (2013) EsPal: One-stop shopping for Spanish word properties. Behavior Research Methods, 45(4), 1246–1258. doi:  10.3758/s13428‑013‑0326‑1
    https://doi.org/10.3758/s13428-013-0326-1 [Google Scholar]
  16. Duñabeitia, J. A., Dimitropoulou, M., Dowens, M. G., Molinaro, N., & Martin, C.
    (2016) The Electrophysiology of the Bilingual Brain. In EnR. R. Heredia, J. Altarriba, & A. B. Cieślicka (Eds.), Methods in Bilingual Reading Comprehension Research (pp.265–312). New York, NY: Springer New York. doi:  10.1007/978‑1‑4939‑2993‑1_11
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-2993-1_11 [Google Scholar]
  17. Gelman, Andrew
    (2008) Scaling regression inputs by dividing by two standard deviations. Statistics in Medicine, 27, 2865–2873. 10.1002/sim.3107
    https://doi.org/10.1002/sim.3107 [Google Scholar]
  18. Gerard, L. D., & Scarborough, D. L.
    (1989) Language-specific lexical access of homographs by bilinguals. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 15(2), 305–315. doi:  10.1037/0278‑7393.15.2.305
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-7393.15.2.305 [Google Scholar]
  19. Gertken, L. M., Amengual, M., & Birdsong, D.
    (2014) Assessing language dominance with the Bilingual Language Profile. InP. Leclercq, A. Edmonds, & H. Hilton (Eds.), Measuring L2 proficiency: Perspectives from SLA (pp.208–225). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters. 10.21832/9781783092291‑014
    https://doi.org/10.21832/9781783092291-014 [Google Scholar]
  20. Geyer, A., Holcomb, P. J., Midgley, K. J., & Grainger, J.
    (2011) Processing words in two languages: An event-related brain potential study of proficient bilinguals. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 24(3), 338–351. doi:  10.1016/j.jneuroling.2010.10.005
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneuroling.2010.10.005 [Google Scholar]
  21. Gollan, T. H., Montoya, R. I., Cera, C., & Sandoval, T. C.
    (2008) More use almost always means a smaller frequency effect: Aging, bilingualism, and the weaker links hypothesis. Journal of Memory and Language, 58, 787–814. 10.1016/j.jml.2007.07.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2007.07.001 [Google Scholar]
  22. Haigh, C. A., & Jared, D.
    (2007) The activation of phonological representations by bilinguals while reading silently: evidence from interlingual homophones. Journal of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 33(4), 623–644. doi:  10.1037/0278‑7393.33.4.623
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-7393.33.4.623 [Google Scholar]
  23. Jared, D., & Kroll, J. F.
    (2001) Do Bilinguals Activate Phonological Representations in One or Both of Their Languages When Naming Words?Journal of Memory and Language, 44(1), 2–31. doi:  10.1006/jmla.2000.2747
    https://doi.org/10.1006/jmla.2000.2747 [Google Scholar]
  24. Keuleers, E., Lacey, P., Rastle, K., & Brysbaert, M.
    (2011) The British Lexicon Project: Lexical decision data for 28,730 monosyllabic and disyllabic English words. Behavior Research Methods, 44(1), 287–304. doi:  10.3758/s13428‑011‑0118‑4
    https://doi.org/10.3758/s13428-011-0118-4 [Google Scholar]
  25. Kroll, J. F., Gullifer, J. W., & Rossi, E.
    (2013) The Multilingual Lexicon: The Cognitive and Neural Basis of Lexical Comprehension and Production in Two or More Languages. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 33, 102–127. doi:  10.1017/S0267190513000111
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0267190513000111 [Google Scholar]
  26. Kroll, J. F., & Stewart, E.
    (1994) Category Interference in Translation and Picture Naming: Evidence for Asymmetric Connections Between Bilingual Memory Representations. Journal of Memory and Language, 33(2), 149–174. doi:  10.1006/jmla.1994.1008
    https://doi.org/10.1006/jmla.1994.1008 [Google Scholar]
  27. Kroll, J. F., van Hell, J. G., Tokowicz, N., & Green, D. W.
    (2010) The Revised Hierarchical Model: A critical review and assessment. Bilingualism, 13(3), 373–381. doi:  10.1017/S136672891000009X
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S136672891000009X [Google Scholar]
  28. Lemhöfer, K., & Dijkstra, T.
    (2004) Recognizing cognates and interlingual homographs: effects of code similarity in language-specific and generalized lexical decision. Memory cognition, 32(4), 533–550. 10.3758/BF03195845
    https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03195845 [Google Scholar]
  29. Lemhöfer, K., Dijkstra, T., & Michel, M.
    (2004) Three languages, one ECHO: Cognate effects in trilingual word recognition. Language and Cognitive Processes, 19(5), 585–611. doi:  10.1080/01690960444000007
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01690960444000007 [Google Scholar]
  30. McNamara, T. P.
    (2005) Essays in cognitive psychology. Semantic priming: Perspectives from memory and word recognition. New York, NY, US: Psychology Press. doi:  10.4324/9780203338001
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203338001 [Google Scholar]
  31. Midgley, K. J., Holcomb, P. J., & Grainger, J.
    (2009) Language effects in second language learners and proficient bilinguals investigated with event-related potentials. Journal of neurolinguistics, 22(3), 281–300. doi:  10.1016/j.jneuroling.2008.08.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneuroling.2008.08.001 [Google Scholar]
  32. (2011) Effects of Cognate Status on Word Comprehension in Second Language Learners: An ERP Investigation. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23(7), 1634–1647. doi:  10.1162/jocn.2010.21463</p>
    https://doi.org/10.1162/jocn.2010.21463 [Google Scholar]
  33. Montrul, S.
    (2013) How “native” are heritage speakers?. Heritage Language Journal, 10(2), 153–177. 10.46538/hlj.10.2.2
    https://doi.org/10.46538/hlj.10.2.2 [Google Scholar]
  34. Mulík, S., Carrasco-Ortiz, H., & Amengual, M.
    (2018) Phonological activation of first language (Spanish) and second language (English) when learning third language (Slovak) novel words. International Journal of Bilingualism, doi:  10.1177/1367006918781061
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1367006918781061 [Google Scholar]
  35. Neely, J. H., Keefe, D. E., & Ross, K. L.
    (1989) Semantic priming in the lexical decision task: roles of prospective prime-generated expectancies and retrospective semantic matching. Journal of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 15(6), 1003–1019. 10.1037/0278‑7393.15.6.1003
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-7393.15.6.1003 [Google Scholar]
  36. Peeters, D., Dijkstra, T., & Grainger, J.
    (2013) The representation and processing of identical cognates by late bilinguals: RT and ERP effects. Journal of Memory and Language, 68(4), 315–332. doi:  10.1016/j.jml.2012.12.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2012.12.003 [Google Scholar]
  37. Sáchez-Casas, R. M., García-Albea, J. E., & Davis, C. W.
    (1992) Bilingual lexical processing: Exploring the cognate/non-cognate distinction. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 4(4), 293–310. doi:  10.1080/09541449208406189
    https://doi.org/10.1080/09541449208406189 [Google Scholar]
  38. Schwartz, A. I., Kroll, J. F., & Diaz, Mi
    (2007) Reading words in Spanish and English: Mapping orthography to phonology in two languages. Language and Cognitive Processes, 22. 10.1080/01690960500463920
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01690960500463920 [Google Scholar]
  39. Thierry, G., & Wu, Y. J.
    (2004) Electrophysiological evidence for language interference in late bilinguals: NeuroReport, 15(10), 1555–1558. doi:  10.1097/01.wnr.0000134214.57469.c2
    https://doi.org/10.1097/01.wnr.0000134214.57469.c2 [Google Scholar]
  40. van Hell, J. G., & de Groot, A. M. B.
    (1998) Conceptual Representation in Bilingual Memory: Effects of Concreteness and Cognate Status in Word Association. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 1(3), 193–211. 10.1017/S1366728998000352
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728998000352 [Google Scholar]
  41. Van Hell, J. G., & Dijkstra, T.
    (2002) Foreign language knowledge can influence native language performance in exclusively native contexts. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 9(4), 780–789. 10.3758/BF03196335
    https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03196335 [Google Scholar]
  42. van Heuven, W. J. B., Dijkstra, T., & Grainger, J.
    (1998) Orthographic Neighborhood Effects in Bilingual Word Recognition. Journal of Memory and Language, 39(3), 458–483. 10.1006/jmla.1998.2584
    https://doi.org/10.1006/jmla.1998.2584 [Google Scholar]
  43. van Heuven, W. J. B., Mandera, P., Keuleers, E., & Brysbaert, M.
    (2014) SUBTLEX-UK: a new and improved word frequency database for British English. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology (2006), 67(6), 1176–1190. doi:  10.1080/17470218.2013.850521
    https://doi.org/10.1080/17470218.2013.850521 [Google Scholar]
  44. Voga, M., & Grainger, J.
    (2007) Cognate status and cross-script translation priming. Memory & Cognition, 35(5), 938–952. doi:  10.3758/BF03193467
    https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03193467 [Google Scholar]
  45. Yarkoni, T., Balota, D., & Yap, M.
    (2008) Moving beyond Coltheart’s N: a new measure of orthographic similarity. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 15(5), 971–979. doi:  10.3758/PBR.15.5.971
    https://doi.org/10.3758/PBR.15.5.971 [Google Scholar]
  46. Zuur, A., Ieno, E. N., Walker, N., Saveliev, A. A., & Smith, G. M.
    (2009) Mixed Effects Models and Extensions in Ecology with R. New York: Springer-Verlag. 10.1007/978‑0‑387‑87458‑6
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-87458-6 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error