Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-7bb4899584-z9rhp Total loading time: 0.795 Render date: 2023-01-26T23:42:09.786Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

4 - Cognate Processing Effects in Bilingual Lexical Access

from Part II - Bilingual Lexical Processing

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 December 2019

Roberto R. Heredia
Texas A & M University
Anna B. Cieślicka
Texas A & M University
Get access


One of the crucial questions in bilingual research is whether all languages known to a bilingual speaker are coactivated during language processing. Psycholinguists have frequently addressed this issue by comparing processing patterns of words shared across languages with the processing of language-specific items. The present chapter offers a brief review of studies investigating the processing of cognates (i.e., words that share form and meaning across languages) and noncognates, followed by a discussion of factors affecting cognate processing in bilingual research. The influence of these factors is discussed with respect to the type of cognates involved in the materials, task demands, and, finally, in terms of participants’ individual differences.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Further Reading

De Angelis, G. (2007). Third or additional language acquisition. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dijkstra, T., & van Heuven, W. J. B. (2018). Visual word recognition in multilinguals. In Rueschemeyer, S.-A. & Gaskell, M. G. (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of psycholinguistics (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Grosjean, F., & Li, P. (2013). The psycholinguistics of bilingualism (1st ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
Otwinowska-Kasztelanic, A. (2015). Cognate vocabulary in language acquisition and use. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tokowicz, N. (2014). Lexical processing and second language acquisition. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar


Acheson, D. J., Ganushchak, L. Y., Christoffels, I. K., & Hagoort, P. (2012). Conflict monitoring in speech production: Physiological evidence from bilingual picture naming. Brain and Language, 123(2), 131136. ScholarPubMed
Blumenfeld, H. K., & Marian, V. (2005). Covert bilingual language activation through cognate processing: An eye-tracking study. In Bara, B. G, Barsalou, L. W., and Bucciarelli, M. (Eds.), Proceedings of the XXVII Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 286291). Mahwah, NJ: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
Bowers, J. S., Mimouni, Z., & Arguin, M. (2000). Orthography plays a critical role in cognate priming: Evidence from French/English and Arabic/French cognates. Memory and Cognition, 28(8), 12891296. Scholar
Broersma, M. (2009). Triggered codeswitching between cognate languages. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 12(04), 447462. Scholar
Broersma, M., Carter, D., & Acheson, D. J. (2016). Cognate costs in bilingual speech production: Evidence from language switching. Frontiers in Psychology, 7. ScholarPubMed
Broersma, M., & De Bot, K. (2006). Triggered codeswitching: A corpus-based evaluation of the original triggering hypothesis and a new alternative. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 9(01), 113. Scholar
Bultena, S., Dijkstra, T., & van Hell, J. G. (2013). Cognate and word class ambiguity effects in noun and verb processing. Language and Cognitive Processes, 28(9), 13501377. Scholar
Bultena, S., Dijkstra, T., & van Hell, J. G. (2014). Cognate effects in sentence context depend on word class, L2 proficiency, and task. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 67(6), 12141241. ScholarPubMed
Christoffels, I., De Groot, A. M. B., & Kroll, J. F. (2006). Memory and language skills in simultaneous interpreters: The role of expertise and language proficiency. Journal of Memory and Language, 54(3), 324345. Scholar
Christoffels, I. K., Firk, C., & Schiller, N. O. (2007). Bilingual language control: An event-related brain potential study. Brain Research, 1147, 192208.Google ScholarPubMed
Clyne, M. (1980). Triggering and language processing. Canadian Journal of Psychology/Revue Canadienne de Psychologie, 34(4), 400406. Scholar
Clyne, M. (2003). Dynamics of language contact: English and immigrant languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Colomé, À., & Miozzo, M. (2010). Which words are activated during bilingual word production? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 36(1), 96109. ScholarPubMed
Comesaña, M., Coelho, R., Oliveira, H., & Paula Soares, A. (2018). How letter order is encoded in bilingual reading? The role of deviant-letter position in cognate word recognition. Speech, Language and Hearing, 21(2), 9093. Scholar
Comesaña, M., Ferré, P., Romero, J., Guasch, M., Soares, A. P., & García-Chico, T. (2015). Facilitative effect of cognate words vanishes when reducing the orthographic overlap: The role of stimuli list composition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 41(3), 614635. ScholarPubMed
Comesaña, M., Sánchez-Casas, R., Soares, A. P., Pinheiro, A. P., Rauber, A., Frade, S., & Fraga, I. (2012). The interplay of phonology and orthography in visual cognate word recognition: An ERP study. Neuroscience Letters, 529(1), 7579. Scholar
Comesaña, M., Soares, A. P., Sánchez-Casas, R., & Lima, C. (2012). Lexical and semantic representations in the acquisition of L2 cognate and non-cognate words: Evidence from two learning methods in children. British Journal of Psychology, 103(3), 378392. ScholarPubMed
Cop, U., Dirix, N., van Assche, E., Drieghe, D., & Duyck, W. (2017). Reading a book in one or two languages? An eye movement study of cognate facilitation in L1 and L2 reading. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 20(04), 747769. Scholar
Costa, A., Caramazza, A., & Sebastián-Gallés, N. (2000). The cognate facilitation effect: Implications for models of lexical access. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 26(5), 12831296.Google ScholarPubMed
Costa, A., Miozzo, M., & Caramazza, A. (1999). Lexical selection in bilinguals: Do words in the bilingual’s two lexicons compete for selection? Journal of Memory and Language, 41(3), 365397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Costa, A., Santesteban, M., & Caño, A. (2005). On the facilitatory effects of cognate words in bilingual speech production. Brain and Language, 94(1), 94103.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
De Groot, A. M. B., & Keijzer, R. (2000). What is hard to learn is easy to forget: The roles of word concreteness, cognate status, and word frequency in foreign-language vocabulary learning and forgetting. Language Learning, 50(1), 156.–8333.00110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
De Groot, A. M. B., & Nas, G. L. J. (1991). Lexical representation of cognates and noncognates in compound bilinguals. Journal of Memory and Language, 30(1), 90123.–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Declerck, M., Koch, I., & Philipp, A. M. (2012). Digits vs. pictures: The influence of stimulus type on language switching. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 15(04), 896904. Scholar
Degani, T., Prior, A., & Hajajra, W. (2018). Cross-language semantic influences in different script bilinguals. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 21(4), 782804. Scholar
Dijkstra, T., Grainger, J., & van Heuven, W. J. B. (1999). Recognition of cognates and interlingual homographs: The neglected role of phonology. Journal of Memory and Language, 41(4), 496518. Scholar
Dijkstra, T., Miwa, K., Brummelhuis, B., Sappelli, M., & Baayen, H. (2010). How cross-language similarity and task demands affect cognate recognition. Journal of Memory and Language, 62(3), 284301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dijkstra, T., & van Heuven, W. J. B. (2002). The architecture of the bilingual word recognition system: From identification to decision. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 5(03), 175197. Scholar
Duñabeitia, J. A., Dimitropoulou, M., Dowens, M. G., Molinaro, N., & Martin, C. (2016). The electrophysiology of the bilingual brain. In Heredia, R. R., Altarriba, J., & Cieślicka, A. B. (Eds.), Methods in bilingual reading comprehension research (pp. 265312). New York: Springer.–1-4939–2993-1_11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Duyck, W., van Assche, E., & Hartsuiker, R. (2007). Visual word recognition by bilinguals in a sentence context: Evidence for nonselective lexical access. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 33(4), 663679.Google Scholar
Friel, B. M., & Kennison, S. M. (2001). Identifying German–English cognates, false cognates, and non-cognates: Methodological issues and descriptive norms. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 4(03) 249-274. Scholar
García, A. M., Ibanez, A., Huepe, D., Houck, A. L., Michon, M., Lezama, C. G., … & Rivera-Rei, A. (2014). Word reading and translation in bilinguals: the impact of formal and informal translation expertise. Frontiers in Psychology, 5. ScholarPubMed
Gullifer, J. W., Kroll, J. F., & Dussias, P. E. (2013). When language switching has no apparent cost: Lexical access in sentence context. Frontiers in Psychology, 4. ScholarPubMed
Hoshino, N., & Kroll, J. F. (2008). Cognate effects in picture naming: Does cross-language activation survive a change of script? Cognition, 106(1), 501511. ScholarPubMed
Ivanova, I., & Costa, A. (2008). Does bilingualism hamper lexical access in speech production? Acta Psychologica, 127(2), 277288.Google ScholarPubMed
Kootstra, G. J., van Hell, J. G., & Dijkstra, T. (2012). Priming of code-switches in sentences: The role of lexical repetition, cognates, and language proficiency. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 15(04), 797819. Scholar
Kroll, J. F., Dijkstra, T., Janssen, T., & Schriefers, H. (2000). Selecting the language in which to speak: Experiments on lexical access in bilingual production. Paper presented at the 41st Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society, New Orleans, LA, November 16–19.
Kroll, J. F., & Stewart, E. (1994). Category interference in translation and picture naming: Evidence for asymmetric connections between bilingual memory representations. Journal of Memory and Language, 33(2), 149174. Scholar
Lauro, J., & Schwartz, A. I. (2017). Bilingual non-selective lexical access in sentence contexts: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Memory and Language, 92, 217233. Scholar
Lemhöfer, K., Dijkstra, T., Baayen, R. H., Grainger, J., & Zwitserlood, P. (2008). Native language influences on word recognition in a second language: A megastudy. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 34(1), 1231.–7393.34.1.12Google Scholar
Lemhöfer, K., Dijkstra, T., & Michel, M. C. (2004). Three languages, one ECHO: Cognate effects in trilingual word recognition. Language and Cognitive Processes, 19(5), 585611. Scholar
Lemhöfer, K., Huestegge, L., & Mulder, K. (2018). Another cup of TEE? The processing of second language near-cognates in first language reading. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 33(8), 968991. Scholar
Li, C., & Gollan, T. H. (2018a). Cognates facilitate switches and then confusion: Contrasting effects of cascade versus feedback on language selection. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 44(6), 974991. ScholarPubMed
Li, C., & Gollan, T. H. (2018b). Cognates interfere with language selection but enhance monitoring in connected speech. Memory and Cognition, 46(6), 923939.–0812–xCrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Libben, M. R., & Titone, D. A. (2009). Bilingual lexical access in context: Evidence from eye movements during reading. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 35(2), 381390.Google ScholarPubMed
Lijewska, A., & Chmiel, A. (2015). Cognate facilitation in sentence context – translation production by interpreting trainees and non-interpreting trilinguals. International Journal of Multilingualism, 12(3), 358375. Scholar
Lotto, L., & De Groot, A. M. B. (1998). Effects of learning method and word type on acquiring vocabulary in an unfamiliar language. Language Learning, 48(1), 3169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mieszkowska, K., & Otwinowska-Kasztelanic, A. (2015). Is A2 in German better than B2 in French when reading Danish? The role of prior language knowledge when faced with an unknown language. In De Angelis, G., Jessner, U., & Kresic, M. (Eds.), Crosslinguistic influence and crosslinguistic interaction in multilingual language learning (pp. 213234). London: Bloomsbury Academic. Scholar
Myers-Scotton, C. (2005). Multiple voices: An introduction to bilingualism (1st ed.). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
Nakayama, M., Verdonschot, R. G., Sears, C. R., & Lupker, S. J. (2014). The masked cognate translation priming effect for different-script bilinguals is modulated by the phonological similarity of cognate words: Further support for the phonological account. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 26(7), 714724. Scholar
Otwinowska, A., & Szewczyk, J. M. (2017). The more similar the better? Factors in learning cognates, false cognates and non-cognate words. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism.
Otwinowska-Kasztelanic, A. (2009). Raising awareness of cognate vocabulary as a strategy in teaching English to Polish adults. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 3(2), 131147. Scholar
Peeters, D., Dijkstra, T., & Grainger, J. (2013). The representation and processing of identical cognates by late bilinguals: RT and ERP effects. Journal of Memory and Language, 68(4), 315332. Scholar
Pivneva, I., Mercier, J., & Titone, D. (2014). Executive control modulates cross-language lexical activation during L2 reading: Evidence from eye movements. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 40(3), 787796. ScholarPubMed
Poarch, G. J., & van Hell, J. G. (2012). Cross-language activation in children’s speech production: Evidence from second language learners, bilinguals, and trilinguals. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 111(3), 419438. ScholarPubMed
Poarch, G. J., & van Hell, J. G. (2014). Cross-language activation in same-script and different-script trilinguals. International Journal of Bilingualism, 18(6), 693716.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Poort, E. D., & Rodd, J. M. (2017). The cognate facilitation effect in bilingual lexical decision is influenced by stimulus list composition. Acta Psychologica, 180, 5263. ScholarPubMed
Poort, E. D., Warren, J. E., & Rodd, J. M. (2016). Recent experience with cognates and interlingual homographs in one language affects subsequent processing in another language. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 19(01), 206212. Scholar
Pureza, R., Soares, A. P., & Comesaña, M. (2016). Cognate status, syllable position and word length on bilingual Tip-Of-the-Tongue states induction and resolution. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 19(03), 533549. Scholar
Santesteban, M., & Costa, A. (2016). Are cognate words “special”?: On the role of cognate words in language switching performance. In Schwieter, J. W. (Ed.), Bilingual processing and acquisition, Vol. 2 (pp. 97126). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Scholar
Schepens, J., Dijkstra, T., & Grootjen, F. (2012). Distributions of cognates in Europe as based on Levenshtein distance. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 15(01), 157166. Scholar
Schwartz, A. I., & Kroll, J. F. (2006). Bilingual lexical activation in sentence context. Journal of Memory and Language, 55(2), 197212. Scholar
Starreveld, P. A., De Groot, A. M. B., Rossmark, B. M. M., & van Hell, J. G. (2014). Parallel language activation during word processing in bilinguals: Evidence from word production in sentence context. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 17(02), 258276. Scholar
Strijkers, K., Costa, A., & Thierry, G. (2010). Tracking lexical access in speech production: electrophysiological correlates of word frequency and cognate effects. Cerebral Cortex, 20(4), 912928. ScholarPubMed
Szubko-Sitarek, W. (2011). Cognate facilitation effects in trilingual word recognition. Studies in Second Language, 1(2), 189208.Google Scholar
Szubko-Sitarek, W. (2015). Multilingual lexical recognition in the mental lexicon of third language users. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tessel, C. A., Levy, E. S., Gitterman, M., & Shafer, V. L. (2018). Neurophysiological indices of the effect of cognates on vowel perception in late Spanish-English bilinguals. Journal of Phonetics, 68, 117137. Scholar
Titone, D., Libben, M., Mercier, J., Whitford, V., & Pivneva, I. (2011). Bilingual lexical access during L1 sentence reading: The effects of L2 knowledge, semantic constraint, and L1–L2 intermixing. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 37(6), 14121431. ScholarPubMed
Tokowicz, N., Kroll, J. F., De Groot, A. M. B., & van Hell, J. G. (2002). Number-of-translation norms for Dutch—English translation pairs: A new tool for examining language production. Behavior Research Methods, 34(3), 435451.Google ScholarPubMed
Tonzar, C., Lotto, L., & Job, R. (2009). L2 vocabulary acquisition in children: Effects of learning method and cognate status. Language Learning, 59(3), 623646.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
van Assche, E., Drieghe, D., Duyck, W., Welvaert, M., & Hartsuiker, R. J. (2011). The influence of semantic constraints on bilingual word recognition during sentence reading. Journal of Memory and Language, 64(1), 88107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
van Assche, E., Duyck, W., & Brysbaert, M. (2013). Verb processing by bilinguals in sentence contexts. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 35(02), 237259. Scholar
van Assche, E., Duyck, W., Hartsuiker, R. J., & Diependaele, K. (2009). Does bilingualism change native-language reading? Cognate effects in a sentence context. Psychological Science, 20(8), 923927.–9280.2009.02389.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
van Hell, J. G., & De Groot, A. M. B. (1998). Conceptual representation in bilingual memory: Effects of concreteness and cognate status in word association. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 1(03), 193211. Scholar
van Hell, J. G., & Dijkstra, T. (2002). Foreign language knowledge can influence native language performance in exclusively native contexts. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review,9(4), 780789. ScholarPubMed
van Orden, G. C. (1987). A ROWS is a ROSE: Spelling, sound, and reading. Memory and Cognition, 15(3), 181198. Scholar
Verhoef, K. M. W., Roelofs, A., & Chwilla, D. J. (2010). Electrophysiological evidence for endogenous control of attention in switching between languages in overt picture naming. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 22(8), 18321843. ScholarPubMed
Voga, M., & Grainger, J. (2007). Cognate status and cross-script translation priming. Memory and Cognition, 35(5), 938952.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Zhou, H., Chen, B., Yang, M., & Dunlap, S. (2010). Language nonselective access to phonological representations: Evidence from Chinese–English bilinguals. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 63(10), 20512066. ScholarPubMed
Cited by

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats