Implicit Translation during Second Language Lexical Processing

Volume 19
Issue 3
Jinah Kim, Ji Hyon Kim
Most previous studies in psycholinguistics investigating whether bilingual
lexical access is non-selective have employed experimental tasks which require
the bilingual participant to explicitly activate their two languages or routinely
switch between the two. The present study examines bilingual lexical processing
through a semantic association task which includes stimuli in only one language
and therefore avoids creating an artificial bilingual context. The bilingual
participants were unconscious of a hidden character repetition when the English
words are translated into their native language, Korean. Results showed
significant interference effects of the hidden character repetition in the behavioral
data reflected as both longer response times and higher error rates. These findings
support and extend the findings of previous studies showing significant ERP
modulations due to implicit activation of the first language and suggest that
bilingual lexical processing is nonselective: bilingual speakers unconsciously
and automatically activate their native language when reading words in their
second language.

Keywords: bilingualism, non-selectivity, lexical access, Korean-English
bilinguals, semantic association