Asymmetrical switch costs in bilingual language production induced by reading words


  • Bertrand Daisy
  • Peeters Dominique
  • Runnqvist Elin
  • Grainger Jonathan

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We examined language-switching effects in French-English bilinguals using a paradigm where pictures are always named in the same language (either French or English) within a block of trials, and on each trial, the picture is preceded by a printed word from the same language or from the other language. Participants had to either make a language decision on the word or categorize it as an animal name or not. Picture-naming latencies in French (Language 1 [L1]) were slower when pictures were preceded by an English word than by a French word, independently of the task performed on the word. There were no language-switching effects when pictures were named in English (L2). This pattern replicates asymmetrical switch costs found with the cued picture-naming paradigm and shows that the asymmetrical pattern can be obtained (a) in the absence of artificial (nonlinguistic) language cues, (b) when the switch involves a shift from comprehension in 1 language to production in another, and (c) when the naming language is blocked (univalent response). We concluded that language switch costs in bilinguals cannot be reduced to effects driven by task control or response-selection mechanisms.

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