A protocol analysis of retrieval in bilingual autobiographical memory

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Effortful retrieval of specific memories may be characterized as a step-wise procedure in which a chain of associations(imagery, language, feelings, concepts) is activated and the information matched to search requirements until a target memory is triggered. This paper addresses the issue of how a bilingual might employ both languages to trigger a sought-after memory. Ten Spanish-English speaking bilinguals were cued with words in Spanish and English in blocked conditions on separate days and asked to “think aloud” while searching for an autobiographical incident related to the cue word. Protocols were transcribed and coded for kinds of mental states(visual imagery, emotion, concepts, and linguistic elements) intervening between the cue and the final memory. A Friedman ANOVA indicated that visual imagery was the most frequent state accessed. Inspection of the protocols in which language played a role suggested that bilinguals both consciously translated cues and made automatic associations within-and across-languages at morphological, lexical, and semantic levels to trigger memories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-256
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingualism
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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