Lexical selection in bilingual speech production does not involve language suppression

Matthew Finkbeiner*, Jorge Almeida, Niels Janssen, Alfonso Caramazza

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Citations (Scopus)


The "hard problem" in bilingual lexical access arises when translation-equivalent lexical representations are activated to roughly equal levels and, thus, compete equally for lexical selection. The language suppression hypothesis (D. W. Green, 1998) solves this hard problem through the suppression of lexical representations in the nontarget language. Following from this proposal is the prediction that lexical selection should take longer on a language switch trial because the to-be-selected representation was just suppressed on the previous trial. Inconsistent with this prediction, participants took no longer to name pictures in their dominant language on language switch trials than they did on nonswitch trials. These findings indicate that nontarget lexical representations are not suppressed. The authors suggest that these results undermine the viability of the language suppression hypothesis as a possible solution to the hard problem in bilingual lexical access.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1075-1089
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Bilingual
  • Language switching
  • Lexical access
  • Lexical selection
  • Speech production


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