Asymmetric Cross-language Activation of Translations in Korean-English Bilinguals

Volume 19
Issue 1
Ji Hyon Kim, Jin Ah Kim, Jin Myung Lee, Jae Hee Yang
This study tested the predictions of the Revised Hierarchical Model (RHM) and the Bilingual Interactive Activation Plus (BIA+) model through a translation recognition task in which low-intermediate Korean-English bilinguals decided whether the second word of a two-word sequence was the correct translation of the first. In the critical distractor conditions, the second word was not a correct translation of the first, but phonologically related to the first word (i.e., phonological neighbors), or phonologically related to the correct translation (i.e., translation neighbors). Results showed that the participants experienced interference for related distractors in both L2-L1 and L1-L2 translation directions. However, an interaction with distractor type was only found in the forward (L1 to L2) translation direction, with a larger interference effect for the translation neighbors. The results of the present study support and extend the predictions of the BIA+ model by showing nonselective phonological activation for different-script bilinguals, while also supporting the predictions of the RHM regarding translation asymmetry. We suggest previous assumptions regarding the mechanisms of the translation recognition task and interpretation of its data may be flawed, and propose a fundamental rethinking of these issues.