Switch cost modulations in bilingual sentence processing: evidence from shadowing

Sybrine Bultena, Ton Dijkstra, Janet G. van Hell

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34 Scopus citations


In bilingual processing, cognates are associated with facilitatory processing, while switching between languages is associated with a processing cost. This study investigates whether co-activation of cognates affects the magnitude of switch costs in sentence context. A shadowing task was conducted to examine whether verb cognates reduce switch costs in sentences that switched between participants' L1 and L2. In addition, we considered whether these effects were influenced by L2 proficiency, switching direction and cross-linguistic overlap in syntactic structure. Bilinguals were presented with L1 and L2 sentences that contained a language switch preceded by a cognate. Shadowing latencies showed that switching to L2 was more costly than switching to L1. Switch costs in both directions were not modulated by the presence of a verb cognate, and this effect was not affected by syntactic structure or L2 proficiency. The results are informative for the field of bilingual processing and the lexical trigger hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)586-605
Number of pages20
JournalLanguage, Cognition and Neuroscience
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 28 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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