Speaker: Prof Elena Nicoladis
Title: Do bilinguals think differently to speak their two languages?
Date: Wednesday October 28, 4pm
Venue: AS4/02-08 (Psychology Department Meeting Room)
Most researchers assume that bilinguals have a single common conceptual store that can be accessed by either language. I present the results of two studies that challenge that assumption. In the first study, we asked Chinese-English bilingual children to generate as many examples of animals, clothes, and food/drinks as they could, once in each language. If the children were accessing a common store, we expected a lot of overlap in the animal and clothes words they generated. In fact, we found very little overlap. In the second study, we asked Mandarin-English bilingual adults to act out near-synonyms of “throw” in both of their languages. The results showed that they had language-specific concepts of “throw” verbs, with little effect of their other language. The results of both studies suggest that the bilinguals were accessing language-specific concepts. Possible reasons that the results of these studies seem to contradict those of many previous studies will be discussed.
About the Speaker:
Elena Nicoladis is a professor of developmental psychology at the University of Alberta in Canada. Her research focuses on bilingual children’s language and thought, as well as gesture use across cultures, languages, and ages.