Lexical activation in late bilinguals: effects of phonological neighbourhood on spoken word production

Solene Hameau*, Britta Biedermann, Lyndsey Nickels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
20 Downloads (Pure)


This research explores patterns of lexical activation of both languages of a bilingual when producing spoken words. Specifically, it investigates the influence of within- and cross-language measures of phonological neighbourhood, on the English picture naming performance of a diverse group of French (L1) – English (L2) late bilinguals. A novel phonological neighbourhood density measure was used that took into account the phonological and lexical constraints of this sample of late bilinguals. Results showed that both within- and cross-language neighbours influenced picture naming performance and that the length of exposure to L2 and familiarity of the target modulated these effects, with both facilitatory and inhibitory effects observed. Additionally, the previously well-attested cognate facilitation effect decreased with L2 language exposure. These results support interactive models of word production, within a language non-specific view of lexical access, and show the dynamic nature of a bilingual’s lexical connections.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-534
Number of pages18
JournalLanguage, Cognition and Neuroscience
Issue number4
Early online date7 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • late bilingual
  • lexical retrieval
  • phonological neighbourhood density
  • cross-linguistic influence
  • L2 exposure
  • cognate


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