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A comparison of verb and noun retrieval in Mandarin–English bilinguals with English-speaking monolinguals

  • RAN LI (a1), YASMEEN FAROQI-SHAH (a2) and MIN WANG (a2)


The finding that noun production is slower and less accurate in bilinguals compared to monolinguals is well replicated, but not well understood. This study examined the two prominent theoretical accounts for this bilingual effect: weaker links and cross-language interference. Highly proficient Mandarin–English bilinguals and English-speaking monolinguals named pictures in which the effects of grammatical class, word frequency and translatability were examined. While bilinguals were slower overall than monolinguals in both L1 and L2, the magnitude of this bilingual effect was smaller for verbs than for nouns. Bilinguals showed a larger production advantage for high vs. low frequency words in their L2 relative to monolinguals and their L1. Bilinguals also showed an advantage for words with greater translatability, which did not differ across grammatical categories. The findings lend partial support to the weaker links account, and reveal cross-language facilitation rather than interference.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Ran Li, Department of Speech-Language Pathology, College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College, 635 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston University, Boston, MA


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*This project was funded by the MCM fund for student research awarded to Ran Li by the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, University of Maryland.



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