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Academic Paper


Title: Reading Russian–English homographs in sentence contexts: Evidence from ERPs
Author: Olessia Jouravlev
Institution: University of Western Ontario
Author: Debra Jared
Institution: University of Western Ontario
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition
Subject Language: English
Russian
Abstract: The current study investigated whether Russian–English bilinguals activate knowledge of Russian when reading English sentences. Russian and English share only a few letters, but there are some interlingual homographs (e.g., POT, which means “mouth” in Russian). Critical sentences were written such that the Russian meaning of the homographs fit the context. Sentences presented to participants contained either the English translation of the Russian meaning of a homograph, an interlingual homograph, or a control word (e.g., To see Tom's throat, the doctor asked Tom to open his // widely). Bilinguals showed a reduction in the N400 component of the event-related potential (ERP) signal for interlingual homographs compared to control words, whereas the N400 of monolingual English speakers was of a similar magnitude in the two conditions. The finding provides evidence that bilinguals automatically activate representations in both of their languages when reading in one language, even when the combination of a language-specific script and the preceding language context indicates that the other language is not relevant.

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This article appears IN Bilingualism: Language and Cognition Vol. 17, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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