Previous research suggests that late bilinguals who speak typologically distant languages are the least likely to show evidence of non-selective lexical access processes. This study puts this claim to test by using the gating task to determine whether words beginning with speech sounds that are phonetically similar in Arabic and English (e.g., [b,d,m,n]) give rise to selective or non-selective lexical access processes in late Arabic–English bilinguals. The results show that an acoustic-phonetic input (e.g., [bæ]) that is consistent with words in Arabic (e.g., [bædrun] “moon”) and English (e.g., [bæd] “bad”) activates lexical representations in both languages of the bilingual. This non-selective activation holds equally well for mixed lists with words from both Arabic and English and blocked lists consisting only of Arabic or English words. These results suggest that non-selective lexical access processes are the default mechanism even in late bilinguals of typologically distant languages.
- Arabic–English bilingualism
- Cross-language acoustic-phonetic similarities
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Language and Linguistics
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Linguistics and Language