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Masked orthographic priming in bilingual word recognition.

Lexical decision experiments with 10 highly proficient French-English bilinguals (Exp 1) and with 20 proficient and 20 beginning French-English bilinguals and 20 monolingual French-speaking students (Exp 2) tested the influence of briefly presented orthographically related primes on target word recognition in bilinguals. The prime stimuli were high-frequency words either from the same language as that of the target or from the other language known by the bilingual Ss. When the prime and target were from the same language, orthographically related primes systematically inhibited target word recognition, whereas orthographically dissimilar primes did not. When the prime and target were words from different languages, the amount of inhibition increased as a function of Ss' level of proficiency in the prime word's language, with highly proficient bilinguals showing practically equivalent amounts of within and across language inhibitory priming. Results indicate that a printed string of letters can simultaneously activate lexical representations in both of the bilingual's languages (insofar as these share the same alphabet), even when Ss are performing a monolingual task. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)