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Is retrieval-induced forgetting behind the bilingual disadvantage in word production?*

  • ELIN RUNNQVIST (a1) and ALBERT COSTA (a2)

Abstract

Levy, Mc Veigh, Marful and Andreson (2007) found that naming pictures in L2 impaired subsequent recall of the L1 translation words. This was interpreted as evidence for a domain-general inhibitory mechanism (RIF) underlying first language attrition. Because this result is at odds with some previous findings and theoretical assumptions, we wanted to assess its reliability and replicate the experiment with various groups. Participants were first shown drawings along with their labels in the non-dominant language. Afterwards, they named 75% of these drawings in their first language or in their non-dominant language. Finally, participants’ memory of all L1 words was tested through the presentation of a rhyme-cue. Recall of L1 words was better after naming pictures in the non-dominant language compared to when the picture was not named at all. This result suggests that speaking a second language protects rather than harms the memory of our first language.

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Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Albert Costa, Departamento de Tecnologia, ICREA, Universitat de Pompeu Fabra, C/Tanger, 122–140, 08018 Barcelona, Spain costalbert@gmail.com

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*

This research was supported by three grants from the Spanish Government (SEJ 2005/SEJ2005–01223/CONSOLIDER-INGENIO) and grants PSIC, PSI2008-00464/PSIC and SGR “2009–1521”. Elin Runnqvist was supported by a Pre-doctoral fellowship from the Catalan Government (FI). The authors are grateful to Kristof Strijkers, Dr. Clara Martin, Dr. David Green, Dr. René Zeelenberg and two anonymous reviewers for their comments on previous versions of this manuscript.

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References

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