The Aphasiology Archive
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Confrontation naming and semantic relatedness judgements in Spanish/English bilinguals

Edmonds, Lisa A. and Kiran, Swathi
Confrontation naming and semantic relatedness judgements in Spanish/English bilinguals. Aphasiology, 18(5-7), 2004, pages 567-579.


Background: The results of many current studies on naming in bilingualism have provided converging evidence for a semantic representation common to both languages within a bilingual individual. However, the interaction between lexical access and semantic representation in bilinguals is relatively unclear.

Aims: To further understand this relationship in normal bilingual individuals, we asked the following questions: (1) Is there homogeneity in naming accuracy for both languages across subjects? We predicted that naming accuracy would differ across subjects based on their proficiency levels in each language. (2) After separating subjects into groups based on their proficiency levels (balanced, Spanish dominant, English dominant), is there a difference in their mean ratings of the semantic similarity of word pairs across proficiency groups? According to the mixed model (De Groot, Dannenburg, & van Hell, 1994), it was predicted that similar mean ratings would be observed across all groups.

Methods & Procedures: A total of 23 Spanish/English bilinguals (average age = 35.5 years) completed a confrontation naming task and a semantic relatedness questionnaire in both languages. The same set of stimuli, controlled for various factors, was used for each task in both languages and counterbalanced by language across two sessions. Based on naming performances, participants were assigned to the balanced bilingual (N = 10), English dominant (N = 10), or Spanish dominant (N = 3) group (Kohnert, Hernandez, & Bates, 1998).

Outcomes & Results: Overall English mean correct was 94.29%; Spanish was 88.19%. Significant differences in naming were seen between groups, F(2, 85) = 4.3, p = .01, and within the language dominant groups across subjects (p < .05) and items (p < .05). On the semantic relatedness task, no significant difference was observed between the ratings of word pairs in each language across participants or items in any group.

Conclusions: Despite differences in lexical access, participants in all proficiency groups rated word pairs similarly, indicating a shared semantic representation for both languages. The mixed model (de Groot et al., 1994) can explain the findings for all groups. Results of this study have clinical implications for bilingual aphasic patients. It is imperative to ascertain a patient's pre-morbid language use prior to brain damage in order to gauge pre-morbid proficiencies. Treatment should consider proficiency levels in both languages, with consideration that the strength of connections between each lexicon and from each lexicon to semantic memory may differ.

EPrint Type:Journal (Paginated)
ID Code:1499
Conference:Clinical Aphasiology Conference: Clinical Aphasiology Conference (2003 : 33rd : Orcas Island, WA : May 2003)
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
Alternative Locations:,,
Additional Information:Access to Full Text is subject to the Publisher's access restrictions.