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Cross-script L2-L1 noncognate translation priming in lexical decision depends on L2 proficiency: Evidence from Japanese–English bilinguals*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 July 2015

Faculty of Arts, Letters and Sciences, Waseda University
Graduate School of Arts, Letters and Sciences, Waseda University
Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario
Address for correspondence: Mariko Nakayama, Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Waseda University, 1-24-1 Toyama Shinjuku-ku Tokyo,


Previous research with unbalanced, different-script bilinguals has typically produced null L2-L1 noncognate masked translation priming effects in lexical decision tasks (LDT). Two novel models of the bilingual mental lexicon have emerged to account for these null results: the episodic L2 hypothesis and the Sense model. In contrast, the BIA+ model predicts significant priming whenever bilinguals are sufficiently proficient in L2. Using Japanese–English bilinguals, the role of L2 proficiency in L2-L1 noncognate translation priming in an LDT was examined. In Experiments 1 and 2, significant priming effects were observed for highly proficient bilinguals. In contrast, in Experiment 3, less-proficient bilinguals produced a null priming effect. This pattern demonstrates that L2-L1 priming effects do arise in an LDT and those effects are modulated by L2 proficiency, consistent with the BIA+ model's expectations. The pattern can be also explained by the episodic L2 hypothesis, provided that certain modifications are made to its assumptions.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

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This research was supported by a grant from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) to Mariko Nakayama.


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