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Review of  One Mind, Two Languages

Reviewer: Ming-Wei Lee
Book Title: One Mind, Two Languages
Book Author: Janet Nicol
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Subject Language(s): English
Language Family(ies): New English
Issue Number: 12.1705

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Nicol, Janet L., ed. (2001) One Mind, Two Languages:
Bilingual Language Processing. Blackwell Publishers,
Explaining Linguistics Series.

Ming-Wei Lee, University of Cambridge

This book is intended as a resource for anyone
interested in state-of-the-art research on language
processing in the bilingual and second language (L2)
user. It contains nine chapters, five of which
(Chapters 2, 4, 6, 7 and 9) are written or co-written
by faculty members of the Second Language Acquisition
and Teaching Program at the University of Arizona. All
but one of the contributors are based in the US. (The
book also has a Preface, a bibliography of all the
works cited in the book and a combined author and
subject index.)

In Chapter 1 ('The bilingual's language modes'),
Grosjean examines the notion of �language mode�, which
is defined as �the state of activation of the
bilingual�s languages and language processing
mechanisms at a given point in time� (p.3). He
discusses the factors that influence a bilingual�s
position on the language mode continuum, and surveys
the literature documenting the effects that language
mode has on language production, perception,
acquisition and pathology in bilinguals. He calls for
more systematic study of the phenomenon (e.g., how
language mode can be assessed and modelled), and
stresses the importance of taking steps to control
language mode as an extraneous variable in bilingualism
research where language mode is not the focus of

Chapter 2 ('The voicing contrast in English and
Spanish: The relationship between perception and
production') deals with speech perception and
production in bilinguals, exploiting the different
phonetic realisations of the same phonological voicing
contrast for word-initial stop consonants in English
and Spanish. Zampini and Green examine to what extent
early Spanish-English bilinguals and late English-
speaking learners of Spanish resemble the respective
monolinguals of the two languages in their production
of voiced and voiceless stop consonants in English and
Spanish, and to what extent they resemble English
monolinguals and late Spanish-speaking learners of
English in the use of acoustic cues in perceiving the
same sounds. They argue that the acoustic dimensions
of voice onset time and voiceless closure interval
should be considered separately and that language
experience, language mode and sentence context all have
a role to play in bilinguals� speech perception and

In Chapter 3 ('The development of conceptual
representation for words in a second language'), Kroll
and Tokowicz examine the development of the links
between concepts and L2 words in the bilingual lexicon,
focusing on the issue of whether non-conceptually-
mediated links between L1 and L2 lexical
representations exist (at different stages of L2
development). They first review a large number of
experimental findings on word recognition, production
and translation and discuss their implications for
modelling the functional architecture of the bilingual
lexicon. They then consider the question of how
bilinguals modulate and control the relative activation
of their two languages, and argue that future research
should try to bring the architecture and control
questions together.

In Chapter 4 ('The nature of the bilingual lexicon:
Experiments with the masked priming paradigm'), Forster
and Jiang put forward the novel and fairly radical view
that the L1 and L2 lexicons (at least in late L2
learners) are qualitatively different in that the L1
lexicon is represented in the language module and the
L2 lexicon is some kind of episodic memory. This view,
they argue, is compatible with recent brain imaging
evidence showing distinct cortical areas for L1 and L2,
and it explains why the lexical decision task shows a
masked translation priming effect only from L1 to L2
but not from L2 to L1, and why the episodic recognition
task, unlike the lexical decision task, shows a masked
translation priming effect from L2 to L1.

Chapter 5 ('Explaining aspects of code-switching and
their implications') eschews the methodology of
experimental psycholinguistics and seeks to provide a
processing-based account of a number of observations
that can be made regarding various corpora of naturally
occurring code-switching (CS) data. The observations
under discussion are the frequent doubling of
inflectional morphemes (in particular, plural
morphemes) in, for example, Finnish-English CS, the
high number of English Inflectional Phrase islands in
Arabic-English CS, the dearth of English Noun Phrase
islands (as opposed to the frequent occurrence of
English nouns with Spanish determiners) in Spanish-
English CS, and the convergence phenomenon in some
language contact settings. Myers-Scotton and Jake
explain these data by augmenting the Matrix Language
Frame model with two sub-models, the 4-M model (which
classifies morphemes into content morphemes, early
system morphemes and two classes of late system
morphemes) and the Abstract Level model (which
conceptualises lemmas as consisting of three levels of
abstract lexical structure, namely, lexical-conceptual
structure, predicate-argument structure and
morphological realisation patterns). It is argued that
the two sub-models are not only applicable to the
analysis of CS, but can also provide insights into
other types of language contact phenomena and explain
aspects of speech error, aphasia and second language
acquisition data.

Chapter 6 ('Production of verb agreement in
monolingual, bilingual and second-language speakers')
addresses the question of whether conceptual/semantic
information is available to the mental process which
implements subject-verb number agreement during
sentence production. Previous research using an error
elicitation methodology on monolinguals has found
conceptual effects on the occurrence of subject-verb
number agreement errors in Spanish, but not in English.
Nicol, Teller and Greth report new data on L2 Spanish
from late English-speaking learners of Spanish, and on
English from early Spanish-English bilinguals. They
explain their new data as well as the documented
monolingual data in terms of the participants'
experience (or the lack thereof) with the grammatical
properties of pro-drop, subject-verb inversion, and
subject-adjectival predicate agreement in the relevant

Chapter 7 ('A theory of syntactic interference in the
bilingual') explores the minimalist approach to the
mapping between conceptual structures and syntactic
representations. Sanz and Bever propose a syntactic
functional projection 'Event Phrase' in which the
semantic features [�eventive], [�telic] and [�permanent
state] are encoded. They further argue that these
features vary in semantic interpretability across
languages; in particular, these features are
semantically uninterpreted (i.e., have overt syntactic
consequences) in Spanish, but semantically interpreted
in English. Evidence from L1 English and L1 Spanish
sentence processing experiments testing for antecedent
priming is cited in support of this analysis. The
question is then posed as to whether L2 learners can
ever successfully acquire a semantic feature whose
interpretive level in L2 differs from that in their L1.
The authors hint at a negative answer, although they
have not carried out any research on learners.

Chapter 8 ('Sentence parsing in fluent Spanish-English
bilinguals') is concerned with bilinguals' syntactic
ambiguity resolution strategies. The construction
where a complex noun phrase (NP) is followed by a
relative clause (RC) (i.e., NP1 Preposition NP2 RC)
contains a syntactic ambiguity in that the RC may
attach to (i.e., modify) either NP in the complex NP.
Previous work has established cross-linguistic
differences in how this ambiguity is resolved: English
speakers prefer NP2 attachment whereas Spanish speakers
prefer NP1 attachment. Dussias presents questionnaire
data for English and Spanish and reading time data for
Spanish from early English-Spanish bilinguals, late
English-speaking learners of Spanish and late Spanish-
speaking learners of English. Her data suggest that
bilinguals do not have two sets of language-specific
ambiguity resolution strategies and that their
attachment preference is determined by previous
experience with the construction in both languages.

Chapter 9 ('Print as a primary source of English for
deaf learners') describes an educational programme
which is aimed at teaching reading and English (as an
L2) to deaf children who have American Sign Language
(ASL) as their L1. Unlike their hearing counterparts,
deaf children have to learn to read in English without
any prior knowledge of the spoken form of the language.
Supalla, Wix and McKee argue that, to overcome this
obstacle, deaf children have to be taught to link
English with ASL. The programme prepares deaf
learners' transition to English texts by introducing
iconic signed illustrations of ASL signs, ASL graphemes
and the English alphabet, overtly comparing words
written in ASL graphemes and English graphemes, and
providing the experience of reading hybrid texts with
English content words and ASL grammatical markers and
word order. Unfortunately, the authors are not yet in
a position to tell us about the effectiveness of the

Readers familiar with the literature on the
psycholinguistic aspect of bilingualism would probably
agree that this book is comparable to de Groot and
Kroll (1997), Harris (1992), Schreuder and Weltens
(1993) and Vaid (1986). Most chapters fulfil the
promise of providing good summaries of relevant past
work and the authors� recent research. They also make
helpful suggestions as to what can be done next in the
respective areas. I have no doubt that this book will
quickly find its way onto the reading lists of many
psycholinguistics and bilingualism courses at
postgraduate level.


De Groot, A.M.B., & Kroll, J.F. (1997). Tutorials in
bilingualism: Psycholinguistic perspectives. Mahwah,
NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Harris, R.J. (1992). Cognitive processing in
bilinguals. Amsterdam: North-Holland.

Schreuder, R., & Weltens, B. (1993). The bilingual
lexicon. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Vaid, J. (1986). Language processing in bilinguals:
Psycholinguistic and neuropsychological perspectives.
Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Ming-Wei Lee works in the Research Centre for English
and Applied Linguistics at the University of Cambridge.
He wrote his PhD thesis on bilingual lexical
processing. His current research focuses on
grammatical processes in both native and non-native
language processing.


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