Recognition memory for new characters and words by bilinguals with different writing systems

Suárez, Lidia (2015) Recognition memory for new characters and words by bilinguals with different writing systems. In: Presentations from the 10th International Symposium on Bilingualism. pp. 1-42. From: ISB10: 10th International Symposium on Bilingualism, 20-24 May 2015, New Jersey, NY, USA.

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Distinct orthographies demand and promote specific cognitive skills to a different extent. For example, greater visual memory ability has been associated with reading logographic languages (Tavassoli, 2002), and better phonological awareness with alphabetic languages (Rickard Liow, 2014). Moreover, while bilingualism has been associated with general advantage during third-language acquisition (Kaushanskaya & Marian, 2009), some studies have focused on how the use of different scripts affect the learning of new logographic words (i.e., characters). For instance, Ehrich and Meuter (2009) found faster response latencies during new-character recognition by bilinguals with Chinese as a first language (L1), as compared to bilinguals who possessed alphabetic languages (English and French). However, the bilinguals' performance was equal regarding recognition accuracy and syntactic processing speed. Those results suggested that a logographic-L1 background might facilitate basic processes involved in character identification (e.g., visual speed and storage of visuospatial information) rather than higher-order processes involved in lexical access. The current study explored the influence of the use of different writing systems on basic processes of visual memory and recognition of new characters and words (see Table 1). Participants were English monolinguals, and bilinguals were literate in English and another alphabetic, alphasyllabic, or logographic language. The first hypothesis predicted that logographic users would show visuospatial memory enhancement, associated with an advantage at recognising new characters. Results (see Table 1) showed that logographic users performed better than the average of the other three groups in visuospatial memory tasks. However, discrimination and response latencies of characters were similar between logographic users and the average of the other three groups. This indicated that language background and visuospatial memory enhancement did not facilitate the learning of new logographic forms, contrary to previous findings (e.g., Ehrich & Meuter, 2009). It could be that the visuospatial memory advantage is evidenced only in tasks that require focused attention and short-term memory (a few seconds) as compared to tasks (character-recognition) that require recognition responses after a few minutes. Experience in reading Chinese might have facilitated rapid processing and storage in short-term memory, but not long-term memory retention of complex stimuli. The second hypothesis compared biscriptal bilinguals (English-Chinese and English-Tamil [or Hindi]) on visual memory and character learning ability in order to understand whether memory enhancement was related to the use of Chinese or the use of two scripts. The results revealed that greater memory and character-learning performance (but not speed) were associated with the use of Chinese and not alphasyllabic language. Alphasyllabic-language users discriminated characters very poorly as compared to the rest; it could be that experience with alphasyllabic script might have prompted the participants to use inadequate strategies when learning new character-like forms. The third hypothesis tested bilinguals' learning facilitation of new phonological forms (i.e., spoken words). The results showed that bilinguals' new-word recognition response latencies and accuracy were higher than the monolinguals'. This supported previous findings (e.g., Kaushanskaya & Marian, 2009), which relate bilinguals' enhanced phonological capacity to a broader phonological repertoire stored in long-term memory, as compared to monolinguals.

Item ID: 39119
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Keywords: bilingualism, word recognition, bilingual advantage, logographic language, memory
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Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2015 23:35
FoR Codes: 17 PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES > 1702 Cognitive Science > 170204 Linguistic Processes (incl Speech Production and Comprehension) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences @ 100%
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