The question of whether meaning can be extracted from unidentified parafoveal words was examined using fluent Spanish-English bilinguals. In Experiment 1, subjects fixated on a central cross, and a preview word was presented to the right of fixation in parafoveal vision. During the saccade to the parafoveal preview word, the preview was replaced by the target word, which the subject was required to name. In Experiment 2, subjects read sentences containing the target word, and, as in the naming task, a preview word was replaced by the target word when the subject’s saccade crossed a boundary location. In both experiments, preview words were identical to the target word, translations, orthographic controls for the translations, or unrelated words in the opposite language. In both experiments, the preview benefit from the translation conditions was no greater than would be predicted by the orthographic similarity of the preview to the target. Hence, the data indicated that subjects obtained no useful semantic information from words seen parafoveally that enabled them to identify them more quickly on the subsequent fixation.

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© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2001