Visual Word Recognition in Italian-English Bilinguals: Neighborhood Effects on Contrasting Orthographies


Erin Jo Richey

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In the past twenty years, there has been a rise in the number of experimental studies investigating bilingualism, specifically the bilingual mental lexicon and how the human brain processes and uses two languages. Italian-English bilinguals present an ideal opportunity for study because the two languages are vastly different in terms of orthography and grapheme-to-phoneme principles. This study examines orthographic ?neighborhood effects? on visual word recognition in bilinguals. An orthographic neighbor is any word differing by a single letter from the target word, respecting the length and position of that letter. For instance, in English BAT, CAB, and COT are all orthographic neighbors of the target word ?cat.? Data will be collected on both non-words and neighborhood word manipulation in the word recognition task. Multiple studies have shown that target word recognition is sensitive to the number of neighbors in that language and the frequency of occurrence of such orthographically similar words. Italian-English bilinguals will participate in a computer task in which they will identify legal words in English and Italian, as well as non-words. The target words will be classified based on their frequency within the language and the number of neighborhood words they share. Response times will be measured and compared against data from proposed computational models of bilingualism.


Alan Knoerr




The Paul K. & Evalyn E. Cook Richter Trusts - International Fellowship

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