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Phonological coactivation in the bilinguals’ two languages: Evidence from the color naming task*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 April 2015

University of Granada Mind, Brain and Behavior Research Center, Spain
Address for correspondence: Pedro Macizo, Dpto. Psicología Experimental, Facultad de Psicología, Universidad de Granada, Campus de Cartuja s/n. 18071


We evaluate whether bilinguals activate the phonology of their first language (L1) when they speak in their second language (L2). In Experiment 1, Spanish–English (L1–L2) bilinguals performed a color naming task in which they named the color of pictures in L2 while the phonological relationship between the color names and picture names in L1 was evaluated. The bilinguals were slower when color names and picture names were phonologically related in L1 relative to a control condition in which they were unrelated. The same pattern of results was obtained in Experiment 2 when bilinguals with less L2 proficiency were evaluated. These results suggest that bilinguals coactivated the phonology of their two languages and that the phonology in L1 influenced the production of speech in L2. This finding is explained in terms of cascade models of bilingual language production.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

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This study was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (research project PSI2012–32287). We wish to thank Bradley Bloomfield, Natalia Paredes and Verónica Juárez for helping in testing participants.


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