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The Acquisition and Mechanisms of Lexical Regulation in Multilinguals


Three sets of studies explore lexical regulation in bi- and trilinguals. Chapter 1 examines the foreign language effect (disproportionate interference between non-native languages) by conducting two experiments in which Dutch-English-French trilinguals monitor phonemes in picture names. Results show evidence of a foreign language effect in this task, and further posit that the possibility that such a phenomenon is driven by language of instruction (the language from which a bilingual learns a third language). Chapter 2 explores this theory with two experiments where Spanish-English bilinguals learned Hebrew from one of their two languages before performing a language switching task between these languages. Results suggest the presence of a language of instruction effect in this task and further explore the mechanics that drive it. Finally, Chapter 3 explores lexical regulation among known languages in a picture word interference task. Spanish-English bilinguals named pictures that had distractor words superimposed. These two experiments show that task strategies are inadequate in explaining translation facilitation effects of this nature, and reveal the translation facilitation effects to be highly robust. Taken together, these three sets of studies establish a new explanation for the acquisition of lexical regulation mechanisms (language of instruction), and explore the nature of bilingual control mechanisms in current theories of bilingual lexical access.

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