Asymmetrical Priming Effects: An Exploration of Trilingual German–English–French Lexico-Semantic Memory

Abstract

The growing number of multilingual speakers poses an interesting question as to the way in which three or more languages are represented in the memory of a language user. The Revised Hierarchical Model (Kroll and Stewart in J Mem Lang 33: 149–174, 1994) or the Sense Model (Finkbeiner et al. in J Mem Lang 51(1), 1–22, 2004) skillfully capture the prediction regarding two languages, with the lexical level being separate and the conceptual one being unified or distributed to a varying degree. In this set of experiments, we employed primed animacy decision tasks to address the lexico-semantic representation of trilingual German–English–French speakers. The comparison of reaction times has revealed priming effects from L1 to L2 and from L2 to L1, both with prime duration of 100 and 50 ms; a priming asymmetry effect between the L2 and L3 language directions; and no interaction between L1 and L3. The aggregated findings point to a hybrid representation, with both compound and coordinate representations being possible.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

References

  1. Abunuwara, E. (1992). The structure of the trilingual lexicon. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 4(4), 311–322.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Altarriba, J., & Basnight-Brown, D. M. (2007). Methodological considerations in performing semantic- and translation-priming experiments across languages. Behavior Research Methods, 39(1), 1–18.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Aparicio, X., & Lavaur, J. M. (2015). Masked translation priming effects in visual word recognition by trilinguals. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research. 1–20. doi:10.1007/s10936-015-9409-8.

  4. Brysbaert, M., & Duyck, W. (2010). Is it time to leave behind the Revised Hierarchical Model of bilingual language processing after fifteen years of service. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 13(3), 359–371.

  5. Cenoz, J., Hufeisen, B., & Jessner, U. (Eds.). (2001). Cross-linguistic influence in third language acquisition: Psycholinguistic perspectives (Vol. 31). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

  6. De Angelis, G. (2007). Third or additional language acquisition (Vol. 24). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

  7. De Bot, K. (2004). The multilingual lexicon: Modeling selection and control. International Journal of Multilingualism, 1(1), 17–32.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. De Groot, A., & Hoeks, J. C. (1995). The development of bilingual memory: Evidence from word translation by trilinguals. Language Learning, 45(4), 683–724.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. De Groot, A. M., & Nas, G. L. (1991). Lexical representation of cognates and noncognates in compound bilinguals. Journal of Memory and Language, 30(1), 90–123.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Dijkstra, A. T., & van Heuven, W. J. B. (1998). The BIA model and bilingual word recognition. In J. Grainger & A. M. Jacobs (Eds.), Localist connectionist approaches to human cognition (pp. 189–225). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Dijkstra, A. T., & van Heuven, W. J. B. (2002). The architecture of the bilingual word recognition system: From identification to decision. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 5(3), 175–197.

  12. Dong, Y., Gui, S., & MacWhinney, B. (2005). Shared and separate meanings in the bilingual mental lexicon. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 8(03), 221–238.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Dufour, R., & Kroll, J. F. (1995). Matching words to concepts in two languages: A test of the concept mediation model of bilingual representation. Memory and Cognition, 23(2), 166–180.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Duñabeitia, J. A., Perea, M., & Carreiras, M. (2010). Masked translation priming effects with highly proficient simultaneous bilinguals. Experimental Psychology, 57(2), 98–107.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Duyck, W., & Warlop, N. (2009). Translation priming between the native language and a second language: New evidence from Dutch-French bilinguals. Experimental Psychology, 56(3), 173–179.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. Eurobarometer. (2012). Europeans and their Languages. European Commission.

  17. Finkbeiner, M., Forster, K., Nicol, J., & Nakamura, K. (2004). The role of polysemy in masked semantic and translation priming. Journal of Memory and Language, 51(1), 1–22. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2004.01.004.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Forster, K. I., & Davis, C. (1984). Repetition priming and frequency attenuation in lexical access. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 10(4), 680.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Francis, W. S., & Gallard, S. L. (2005). Concept mediation in trilingual translation: Evidence from response time and repetition priming patterns. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 12(6), 1082–1088.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. Gollan, T. H., Forster, K. I., & Frost, R. (1997). Translation priming with different scripts: Masked priming with cognates and noncognates in Hebrew-English bilinguals. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 23(5), 1122–1139.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Jiang, N. (1999). Testing processing explanations for the asymmetry in masked cross-language priming. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 2(01), 59–75.

  22. Keatley, C. W., Spinks, J. A., & De Gelder, B. (1994). Asymmetrical cross-language priming effects. Memory and Cognition, 22(1), 70–84.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. Kolers, P. A. (1963). Interlingual word associations. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 2(4), 291–300.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Kroll, J. F., & Stewart, E. (1994). Category interference in translation and picture naming: Evidence for asymmetric connections between bilingual memory representations. Journal of Memory and Language, 33, 149–174.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Kroll, J. F., Van Hell, J. G., Tokowicz, N., & Green, D. W. (2010). The Revised Hierarchical Model: A critical review and assessment. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 13(3), 373–381. doi:10.1017/S136672891000009X.

  26. Lijewska, A., & Chmiel, A. (2015). Cognate facilitation in sentence context - translation production by interpreting trainees and non-interpreting trilinguals. International Journal of Multilingualism, 1–18. doi:10.1080/14790718.2014.959961.

  27. Neely, J. H., Keefe, D. E., & Ross, K. L. (1989). Semantic priming in the lexical decision task: Roles of prospective prime-generated expectancies and retrospective semantic matching. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 15(6), 1003–1019.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  28. Potter, M. C., So, K. F., von Eckardt, B., & Feldman, L. B. (1984). Lexical and conceptual representation in beginning and proficient bilinguals. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 23(1), 23–38.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Schneider, W., Eschman, A., & Zuccolotto, A. (2002). E-prime computer software and manual. Pittsburgh, PA: Psychology Software Tools Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Schoonbaert, S., Duyck, W., Brysbaert, M., & Hartsuiker, R. J. (2009). Semantic and translation priming from a first language to a second and back: Making sense of the findings. Memory and Cognition, 37(5), 569–586.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. Tytus, A. E., & Rundblad, G. (2016). Cross-language priming as a means of investigating bilingual conceptual representations: A comparison of visual and auditory modality. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism. doi:10.1075/lab.14020.tyt.

  32. Tytus, A. E. (2016) Rising to the bilingual challenge; self-reported experiences of managing life with two languages. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism. doi:10.1080/13670050.2016.1153598.

  33. Wang, X. (2013). Language dominance in translation priming: Evidence from balanced and unbalanced Chinese-English bilinguals. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 66(4), 727–743.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. Zhao, X., & Li, P. (2013). Simulating cross-language priming with a dynamic computational model of the lexicon. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 16, 288–303.

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Agnieszka Ewa Tytus.

Appendices

Appendix 1: List of Stimuli

Animate Inanimate
English German French English German French
Painter Maler peintre Garage Werkstatt atelier
Pig Schwein cochon Pocket Tasche poche
Deer Hirsch cerf Table Tisch table
Bird Vogel oiseau Chair Stuhl chaise
Salesman Verkäufer vendeur Bottle Flasche bouteille
Servant Diener servant Window Fenster fenêtre
Surgeon Chirurg chirugien Belt Gürtel ceinture
Tailor Schneider couturier Scarf Schal écharpe
Translator Übersetzer traducteur Dress Kleid robe
Aunt Tante tante Glasses Brille lunettes
Plumber Klempner plombier Stationery Schreibwaren fournitures
Poet Dichter poète Mirror Spiegel miroir
Hairdresser Friseur coiffeur Door Tür porte
Butterfly Schmetterling papillon Shop Geschäft magasin
Farmer Landwirt agriculteur Barne Scheune grange
Lawyer Rechtsanwalt avocat Jewelry Schmuck bijoux
Lecutrer Dozent conférencier Necklace Halskette collier
Squirrel Eichhörnchen écureuil Armchair Sessel fauteuil
Caterpillar Raupe chenille Closet Schrank placard
Landlord Vermieter propriétaire Present Geschenk cadeau
Monkey Affe singe Pillow Kissen oreiller
Woman Frau femme Rubber Gummi caoutchouc
Maid Dienstmädchen domestique Stamp Briefmarke timbre
Director Regisseur réalisateur Roof Dach toit
Animal Tier animal Stone Stein caillou
Dentist Zahnarzt dentiste Map Landkarte carte
Lion Löwe lion Coat Mantel manteau
Lobster Hummer homard Piano Klavier piano
Cild Kind enfant Castle Burg château
Eagel Adler aigle Doll Puppe poupée
Lizard Eidechse lézard Train Zug train
Artist Künstler artiste Bench Bank banc
Butcher Metzger boucher Button Knopf bouton
Explorer Forscher chercheur Carpet Teppich tapis
Pharmacist Apotheker pharmacien Folder Ordner dossier
Inventor Erfinder inventeur Swing Schaukel escarpolette
Hunter Jäger chasseur Court Gericht tribunal
Warden Aufseher gardien Jail Gefängnis prison
Waiter Kellner serveur Station Bahnhof gare
Boy Junge garçon Tights Strumpfhose collant
Queen Königin reine Glove Handschuh gant
Shark Hai requin Skirt Rock jupe
Donkey Esel âne Shirt Hemd chemise
Snail Schnecke escargot Towel Handtuch serviette
Turkey Truthahn dinde Box Kiste boîte
Seal Seehund phoque Key Schlüssel clé
Drummer Trommler batteur Floor Boden sol
Chick Küken poussin Pen Stift stylo
Doctor Arzt médecin Library Bücherei bibliothèque
Driver Fahrer conducteur Church Kirche église
Sailor Matrose marin Suit Anzug costume
Mailman Postbote facteur Clothes Kleidung vêtements
Accountant Buchhalter comptable Shelf Regal étagère
Horse Pferd cheval Stool Hocker tabouret
Duck Ente canard Curtain Vorhang rideau
Husband Ehemann mari Desk Schreibtisch bureau
Human Mensch personne Clock Uhr pendule
Player Spieler joueur Bucket Eimer seau
Hedgehog Igel hérisson Bicycle Fahrrad vélo
Cockroach Kakerlake cafard Pencil Bleistift crayon
Wife Ehefrau épouse Game Spiel jeu
Groom Bräutigam marié Car Auto voiture
Diver Taucher plongeur Plane Flugzeug avion
Teacher Lehrer professeur Plate Teller assiette
Adviser Berater conseiller Beach Strand plage
Rabbit Hase lapin Glue Kleber colle
Goat Ziege chèvre Viola Bratsche alto
Puppy Welpe chiot Tray Tablett plateau
Ant Ameise fourmi Watch Armbanduhr montre
Piglet Ferkel porcelet Sink Spüle évier
Singer Sänger chanteur Spoon Löffel cuillère
Student Schüler étudiant Umbrella Regenschirm parapluie

Appendix 2: Language Background Questionnaire

The questionnaire was administered in German, here we provide an English translation of the questions that were used.

  1. 1.

    How old are you?

  2. 2.

    Are you male or female?

  3. 3.

    Which program of study do you follow?

    Bachelor/Master/PhD/Other

  4. 4.

    Where were you born?

  5. 5.

    Which languages do you speak?

  6. 6.

    In which order have you learnt your languages?

  7. 7.

    How old were you when you started learning English/French?

  8. 8.

    Where have you learnt English/French?

    Home/School/University/Other

  9. 9.

    Is one of your languages more dominant than other?

    Yes/No

  10. 10.

    If yes, which one is it?

  11. 11.

    In what kind of context do you use German/English/French?

    Family/Friends/School/University/Work/Other

  12. 12.

    How often do you use German/English/French?

    Never/Always

  13. 13.

    How confident do you feel using German/English/French?

    Not at all confident/Very confident

  14. 14.

    How would you evaluate the following language skills: speaking, writing, reading, hearing, use of grammar in German/English/French?

    Very weak/Very strong

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Tytus, A.E. Asymmetrical Priming Effects: An Exploration of Trilingual German–English–French Lexico-Semantic Memory. J Psycholinguist Res 46, 1625–1644 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10936-017-9512-0

Download citation

Keywords

  • Priming
  • Priming asymmetry
  • Trilingualism
  • Concepts
  • Lexico-semantic memory