Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 225–240 | Cite as

Cross-Language Translation Priming Asymmetry with Chinese-English Bilinguals: A Test of the Sense Model

  • Baoguo ChenEmail author
  • Huixia Zhou
  • Yiwen Gao
  • Susan Dunlap


The present study aimed to test the Sense Model of cross-linguistic masked translation priming asymmetry, proposed by Finkbeiner et al. (J Mem Lang 51:1–22, 2004), by manipulating the number of senses that bilingual participants associated with words from both languages. Three lexical decision experiments were conducted with Chinese-English bilinguals. In Experiment 1, polysemous L2 words and their L1 Chinese single-sense translation equivalents were selected as primes and targets. In Experiment 2, single-sense L1 words and their L2 translation equivalents with polysemous senses severed as primes and targets. We found translation priming effects in the L1–L2 direction, but not in the L2–L1 direction. In Experiment 3, presentation time of the L2 priming stimulus was prolonged, and significant translation priming effects were observed in the L2–L1 direction. These findings suggest that the Sense Model does not adequately explain cross-language translation priming asymmetry. The sense numbers of primes and targets, as well as the activation proportion of these senses between them, were possibly not the primary reason for cross-language translation priming asymmetry. The revised hierarchical model (Kroll and Stewart in J Mem Lang 33:149–174, 1994) and the BIA+ model (Dijkstra and van Heuven in Bilingualism Lang Cognit 5:175–197, 2002) better explain the cross-language translation priming asymmetry we found.


Cross-linguistic priming asymmetry Sense Model Second language 



This research was supported by the fund of The National Social Science Fund (11BYY039), the Central University Basic Scientific Research Fund, the Program for New Century Excellent Talents of Ministry of Education in China (NECT-11-0028) and the Beijing Key Lab of Applied Experimental Psychology.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Baoguo Chen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Huixia Zhou
    • 1
  • Yiwen Gao
    • 1
  • Susan Dunlap
    • 2
  1. 1.School of PsychologyBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Learning Research and Development CenterUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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