Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 141–170

Sensitivity to Phonological Similarity Within and Across Languages


    • Department of Communication Sciences and DisordersNorthwestern University
  • Henrike K. Blumenfeld
    • Department of Communication Sciences and DisordersNorthwestern University
  • Olga V. Boukrina
    • Department of Communication Sciences and DisordersNorthwestern University
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10936-007-9064-9

Cite this article as:
Marian, V., Blumenfeld, H.K. & Boukrina, O.V. J Psycholinguist Res (2008) 37: 141. doi:10.1007/s10936-007-9064-9


The influence of phonological similarity on bilingual language processing was examined within and across languages in three experiments. Phonological similarity was manipulated within a language by varying neighborhood density, and across languages by varying extent of cross-linguistic overlap between native and non-native languages. In Experiment 1, speed and accuracy of bilinguals’ picture naming were susceptible to phonological neighborhood density in both the first and the second language. In Experiment 2, eye-movement patterns indicated that the time-course of language activation varied across phonological neighborhood densities and across native/non-native language status. In Experiment 3, speed and accuracy of bilingual performance in an auditory lexical decision task were influenced by degree of cross-linguistic phonological overlap. Together, the three experiments confirm that bilinguals are sensitive to phonological similarity within and across languages and suggest that this sensitivity is asymmetrical across native and non-native languages and varies along the timecourse of word processing.


PhonologyLanguage productionLanguage recognitionBilingualismEye-tracking

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007