Memory & Cognition

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 70–84 | Cite as

Asymmetrical cross-language priming effects

  • Catharine W. Keatley
  • John A. Spinks
  • Beatrice De Gelder


Three experiments were conducted to examine cross-language priming in bilinguals. The first was a cross-language primed lexical decision task experiment with Chinese-English bilinguals. Subjects made lexical decisions about primary associate targets in the two languages at the same rate, but priming occurred only when the prime was in their first language (L1), Chinese, and the target was in their second language (L2), English. Experiment 2 produced the same pattern of asymmetrical priming with two alphabetic languages, French and Dutch. In Experiment 3, the crucial stimuli were translation equivalents. In contrast to the results of Experiments 1 and 2, priming occurred across languages in both the L1-L2 and L2-L1 conditions. However, this priming was also asymmetrical, with more priming occurring in the L1-L2 condition. A tentative separate-interconnected model of bilingual memory is described. It suggests that the representations of words expressed in different languages are stored in separate memory systems, which may be interconnected via one-to-one links between same translation-equivalent representations as well as meaning-integration processes.


Lexical Decision Memory System Proactive Interference Primary Associate Translation Equivalent 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catharine W. Keatley
    • 1
  • John A. Spinks
    • 2
  • Beatrice De Gelder
    • 1
  1. 1.Depanrnent of Social SciencesTilburg UniversityTilburgThe Netherlands
  2. 2.University of Hong KongHong Kong

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