Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 103–118

Language Switching in the Production of Phrases


    • The Bilingual Mind GroupUniversity of the Basque Country
    • Faculty of PsychologyUniversity of Finance and Management
  • Zofia Wodniecka
    • Institute of PsychologyJagiellonian University
  • Anna Marzecová
    • Institute of PsychologyJagiellonian University

DOI: 10.1007/s10936-012-9203-9


The language switching task has provided a useful insight into how bilinguals produce language. So far, however, the studies using this method have been limited to lexical access. The present study provides empirical evidence on language switching in the production of simple grammar structures. In the reported experiment, Polish–English unbalanced bilinguals switched between their L1 and L2 while describing pictures of ongoing and completed actions with simple SV progressive and perfective phrases. The results show asymmetrical switching costs for progressive phrases and symmetrical switching costs with reversed dominance for perfective phrases. These findings parallel those obtained in tasks requiring the production of single words, although the present study is the first in which the same bilingual participants display different patterns of switching costs depending on the characteristics of utterances they produce. These results can be explained using recently developed models of bilingual language control.


Bilingualism Language switching Grammar production Lexical access


This Project was financed from the CONSOLIDER-INGENIO 2010 Programme CSD 2007-00012 and Polish Ministry of Science and Education Grant H01F03829 and a subsidy from Foundation for Polish Science to Zofia Wodniecka and Anna Marzecová. The authors thank Marianna Boros and Aleksandra Szyper for their help in data collection and Mikel Santesteban for comments on the manuscript.

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© The Author(s) 2012