Cross-Language Priming in Chinese-English Bilinguals with Different Second Language Proficiency Levels


In this paper we describe an experimental study of cross-language priming effects between Chinese and English. The priming effects for both translation equivalents and semantically related word pairs were examined from a developmental aspect, in particular under three different situations according to bilinguals’ second language (English) proficiency level measured by CPVT and language history questionnaire, and learning experience determined by whether they have lived in a foreign country. The results match up with previous findings, in terms of the larger effects of priming from L1 to L2 than from L2 to L1 (“priming asymmetry”) and the stronger facilitation for translation priming than semantic priming. More importantly, our study demonstrates how such asymmetries in priming change as the bilinguals’ L2 learning history changes. These findings are discussed in light of current models of bilingual lexical memory.

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