3 A self-organizing connectionist model of bilingual processing

Ping Li, Igor Farkas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Current connectionist models of bilingual language processing have been largely restricted to localist stationary models. To fully capture the dynamics of bilingual processing, we present SOMBIP, a self-organizing model of bilingual processing that has learning characteristics. SOMBIP consists of two interconnected self-organizing neural networks, coupled with a recurrent neural network that computes lexical co-occurrence constraints. Simulations with our model indicate that (1) the model can account for distinct patterns of the bilingual lexicon without the use of language nodes or language tags, (2) it can develop meaningful lexicalsemantic categories through self-organizing processes, (3) it can account for a variety of priming and interference effects based on associative pathways between phonology and semantics in the lexicon, and (4) it can explain lexical representation in bilinguals with different levels of proficiency and working memory capacity. These capabilities of our model are due to its design characteristics in that (a) it combines localist and distributed properties of processing, (b) it combines representation and learning, and (c) it combines lexicon and sentences in bilingual processing. Thus, SOMBIP serves as a new model of bilingual processing and provides a new perspective on connectionist bilingualism. It has the potential of explaining a wide variety of empirical and theoretical issues in bilingual research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-85
Number of pages27
JournalAdvances in Psychology
Issue numberC
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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