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One World, Two Languages: Cross-Language Semantic Priming in Bilingual Toddlers

Authors

  • Leher Singh

    Corresponding author
    1. National University of Singapore
    • Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Leher Singh, Department of Psychology, National University of Singapore, AS 4, 03–40, 9 Arts Link, Singapore 117570. Electronic mail may be sent to psyls@nus.edu.sg.

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  • We are grateful to a research grant from the National University of Singapore to Leher Singh. We thank Calista Chan for recruiting and testing participants; Khoa Soo Hui for assistance with stimulus production; Giovanna Morini, Lee Si Hui, and Lim Woan Yun for assistance with study design; and Fann Tay, Quek Xin Rui, and Shermaine Chionh for assistance with coding.

Abstract

The interconnectedness of bilingual memory remains a topic of great debate. Semantic priming provides a powerful methodological tool with which to investigate this issue in early bilingual toddlers. Semantic priming effects were investigated in 21 bilingual toddlers (2.5 years) within and across each of their languages. Results revealed the first evidence of cross-language and within-language semantic priming in bilingual toddlers. However, priming effects were only observed when the prime was presented in the dominant language and were comparable in magnitude within and across languages. Findings point to high interconnectivity across languages; however, there appear to be strong influences of language dominance on semantic facilitation. Findings serve to inform and refine developmental models of bilingual memory.

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