Cross-language morphological transfer in similar-script bilinguals

Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.


The current study explored cross-language morphological transfer mechanisms using a similar-script morphological translation priming paradigm in highly proficient unbalanced Turkish (first language; L1)–English (second language; L2) bilinguals. Using noncognate English and Turkish stimuli that shared a similar meaning with no form overlap (e.g., ice [Eng.] – buz [Tur.]), in Experiment 1, L2 English stem targets (e.g., ICE) were primed by affixed L1 nonwords (e.g., buzca [iceish]), nonaffixed L1 nonwords (e.g., buznak [iceald]), and unrelated L1 nonwords (e.g., tuşku [keyment]). The results revealed priming effects in both the affixed and nonaffixed nonword conditions relative to the unrelated control, and significantly larger priming in the affixed than the nonaffixed condition. In addition, enhanced cross-language morphological transfer effects were evidenced in bilinguals with an earlier age of L2 acquisition. In Experiment 2, English stem targets (e.g., ICE) were primed by nonaffixed L1 nonwords including translated stems (e.g., buznak [iceald]), semantically related stems (e.g., suzur [waterew]), and unrelated L1 nonwords (e.g., tuşzur [keyew]). The results showed significantly larger priming effects in the translated condition compared with the semantic and unrelated control conditions, with no priming in the semantic condition relative to the unrelated condition, suggesting that cross-language morphological priming effects were specifically due to the lexico-semantic relationship between the embedded word and its translation equivalent.

Psychonomic Bulletin & Review