LINGUIST List 14.1031

Mon Apr 7 2003

Diss: Psycholing: Goral "Lexical Access and..."

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  1. mgoral, Psycholing: Goral "Lexical Access and Language Proficiency..."

Message 1: Psycholing: Goral "Lexical Access and Language Proficiency..."

Date: Fri, 04 Apr 2003 17:27:10 +0000
From: mgoral <>
Subject: Psycholing: Goral "Lexical Access and Language Proficiency..."

Institution: City University of New York
Program: Speech and Hearing Sciences
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2001

Author: Mira Goral 

Dissertation Title: 

Lexical Access and Language Proficiency of Trilingual Speakers

Linguistic Field: Psycholinguistics, Neurolinguistics

Dissertation Director 1: Loraine K. Obler
Dissertation Director 2: Elaine C. Klein
Dissertation Director 3: Martin R. Gitterman
Dissertation Director 4: Judith F. Kroll

Dissertation Abstract: 

Cross-language activation among the three languages of trilingual
speakers was studied using a cross-language, translation-equivalent
priming paradigm in a lexical-decision task. The effects of
proficiency level in each language and the relative proficiency levels
of the three languages on the priming results were assessed. The
participants were 79 native speakers of Hebrew who had varying levels
of proficiency in their additional languages, Arabic and
English. Proficiency in the two non-native languages was measured by
latencies and accuracy levels in a simple lexical-decision task in
each language and by participants' self-reports. The experimental
material included non-cognate translation equivalents in the three

The results demonstrated the importance of level of non-native
language proficiency and its effect on cross-language lexical
activation. Overall priming effects were found from Hebrew primes to
English targets, with decreased effects associated with increased
English proficiency. Overall priming effects were not found in the
opposite direction, from English primes to Hebrew targets, but the
same decrease in effects with increased English proficiency was
evident. No similar overall effects nor similar correlational effects
were obtained between Hebrew and Arabic in either priming
direction. Priming effects between the two non-native languages were
significantly affected by the relative level of proficiency of the two
languages. Facilitation effects were found when the prime language was
of lower proficiency than the target language and when the two
languages were of equally low proficiency. In contrast, inhibition
effects were evident when the prime language was of higher proficiency
than the target language. The results are discussed with respect to
previous studies and current models of bilingual lexical processing
and with emphasis on the importance of language proficiency. A
preliminary model of multilingual lexical activation is subsequently
proposed. Variables such as speed of processing and stimulus and task
characteristics that are relevant to priming studies specifically, and
to research on lexical processing in trilingual and multilingual
speakers more broadly, are addressed.
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