Cross-Lingual Neighborhood Effects in Generalized Lexical Decision and Natural Reading

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Abstract

The present study assessed intra- and cross-lingual neighborhood effects, using both a generalized lexical decision task and an analysis of a large-scale bilingual eye-tracking corpus (Cop, Dirix, Drieghe, & Duyck, 2016). Using new neighborhood density and frequency measures, the general lexical decision task yielded an inhibitory cross-lingual neighborhood density effect on reading times of second language words, replicating van Heuven, Dijkstra, and Grainger (1998). Reaction times for native language words were not influenced by neighborhood density or frequency but error rates showed cross-lingual neighborhood effects depending on target word frequency. The large-scale eye movement corpus confirmed effects of cross-lingual neighborhood on natural reading, even though participants were reading a novel in a unilingual context. Especially second language reading and to a lesser extent native language reading were influenced by lexical candidates from the nontarget language, although these effects in natural reading were largely facilitatory. These results offer strong and direct support for bilingual word recognition models that assume language-independent lexical access.

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