[PS-1.17] From Words to Signs and Back: Effects of Language Modality in Bimodal Bilingual Cross-Language Activation

Villameriel, S. 1 , Dias, P. 1 , Giezen, M. 1 , Costello, B. 1 & Carreiras, M. 1, 2, 3

2 Ikerbasque, Basque Foundation for Science

The goal of the study is to investigate the role of sub-lexical units in cross-language and cross-modal lexical access. We ran two experiments on parallel activation in spoken Spanish and in Spanish Sign Language (LSE) in 56 hearing bimodal bilinguals using the visual world paradigm. Experiment 1 investigated parallel phonological competition in Spanish from words sharing onset or rhyme while seeing LSE signs. Experiment 2 investigated parallel competition in LSE from signs sharing handshape or location while hearing Spanish words.
The results showed co-activation of the spoken language in a signed context, and vice versa, co-activation of the signed language in a spoken context. In Experiment 1, this was shown through word onset competition but no rhyme competition. In Experiment 2, location and handshape both showed competition, with location competition preceding handshape competition.
These findings demonstrate that bimodal bilinguals experience bidirectional co-activation between languages that do not overlap phonologically. Furthermore, the findings suggest an important role for onsets in spoken word coactivation and location in sign co-activation, possibly reflecting the temporal dynamics of the linguistic signal (i.e., incremental processing of words) and perceptual salience (location is more salient than handshape). This suggests important parallels between within-language and cross-language lexical access.