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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: Lexical Access and Language Proficiency of Trilingual Speakers Add Dissertation
Author: Mira Goral Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: City University of New York, Speech and Hearing Sciences
Completed in: 2001
Linguistic Subfield(s): Psycholinguistics; Neurolinguistics;
Subject Language(s): Arabic, Standard
Director(s): Elaine Klein
Loraine Obler
Martin Gitterman
Judith Kroll

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 languages.

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.