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Bidialectalism and Bilingualism: Exploring the Role of Language Similarity as a Link Between Linguistic Ability and Executive Control


Oschwald, Jessica; Schättin, Alisa; Von Bastian, Claudia C; Souza, Alessandra S (2018). Bidialectalism and Bilingualism: Exploring the Role of Language Similarity as a Link Between Linguistic Ability and Executive Control. Frontiers in Psychology, 9:1997.

Abstract

The notion of bilingual advantages in executive functions (EF) is based on the assumption that the demands posed by cross-language interference serve as EF training. These training effects should be more pronounced the more cross-language interference bilinguals have to overcome when managing their two languages. In the present study, we investigated the proposed link between linguistic and EF performance using the similarity between the two languages spoken since childhood as a proxy for different levels of cross-language interference. We assessed the effect of linearly increasing language dissimilarity on linguistic and EF performance in multiple tasks in four groups of young adults (aged 18-33): German monolinguals ( = 24), bidialectals ( = 25; German and Swiss German dialect), bilinguals speaking two languages of the same Indo-European ancestry ( = 24; e.g., German-English), or bilinguals speaking two languages of different ancestry ( = 24; e.g., German-Turkish). Bayesian linear-mixed effects modeling revealed substantial evidence for a linear effect of language similarity on linguistic accuracy, with better performance for participants with more similar languages and monolinguals. However, we did not obtain evidence for the presence of a similarity effect on EF performance. Furthermore, language experience did not modulate EF performance, even when testing the effect of continuous indicators of bilingualism (e.g., age of acquisition, proficiency, daily foreign language usage). These findings question the theoretical assumption that life-long experience in managing cross-language interference serves as EF training.

Abstract

The notion of bilingual advantages in executive functions (EF) is based on the assumption that the demands posed by cross-language interference serve as EF training. These training effects should be more pronounced the more cross-language interference bilinguals have to overcome when managing their two languages. In the present study, we investigated the proposed link between linguistic and EF performance using the similarity between the two languages spoken since childhood as a proxy for different levels of cross-language interference. We assessed the effect of linearly increasing language dissimilarity on linguistic and EF performance in multiple tasks in four groups of young adults (aged 18-33): German monolinguals ( = 24), bidialectals ( = 25; German and Swiss German dialect), bilinguals speaking two languages of the same Indo-European ancestry ( = 24; e.g., German-English), or bilinguals speaking two languages of different ancestry ( = 24; e.g., German-Turkish). Bayesian linear-mixed effects modeling revealed substantial evidence for a linear effect of language similarity on linguistic accuracy, with better performance for participants with more similar languages and monolinguals. However, we did not obtain evidence for the presence of a similarity effect on EF performance. Furthermore, language experience did not modulate EF performance, even when testing the effect of continuous indicators of bilingualism (e.g., age of acquisition, proficiency, daily foreign language usage). These findings question the theoretical assumption that life-long experience in managing cross-language interference serves as EF training.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
08 Research Priority Programs > Dynamics of Healthy Aging
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:2018
Deposited On:26 Feb 2019 13:52
Last Modified:26 Feb 2019 13:52
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
ISSN:1664-1078
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01997
PubMed ID:30405487
Project Information:
  • : FunderSuzanne and Hans Biäsch Foundation
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title

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