Words only go so far: Linguistic context affects bilingual word processing

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In their keynote paper, Dijkstra, Wahl, Buytenhuijs, van Halem, Al-jibouri, de Korte, and Rekké (2018) present a computational model of bilingual word recognition and translation, Multilink, that integrates and further refines the architecture and processing principles of two influential models of bilingual word processing: the Bilingual Activation Model (BIA/BIA+) and the Revised Hierarchical model (RHM). Unlike the earlier models, Multilink has been implemented as a computational model so its design principles and assumptions can be compared with human processing data in simulation studies-which is an important step forward in model development and refinement. But Multilink also leaves behind an important theoretical advancement that was touched upon in extending BIA to BIA+ (Dijkstra & Van Heuven, 2002): how linguistic context influences word processing. In their presentation of BIA+, Dijkstra and Van Heuven (2002) hypothesized that syntactic and semantic aspects of sentence context may affect the word identification system. Theoretically, this was an important step forward, as none of the bilingual word processing models (and few monolingual word processing models, for that matter) had incorporated linguistic context, and at that time only a handful of empirical studies had examined how linguistic context affects bilingual word processing. However, in the past 15 years a significant body of empirical work has been published that examines how semantic and syntactic information in sentences impacts word processing in bilinguals. These important insights are not incorporated in the Multilink model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)689-690
Number of pages2
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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