On the functional equivalence of monolinguals and bilinguals in "monolingual mode": The Bilingual Anticipation Effect in Picture-Word Processing

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Previous evidence indicates that bilinguals are slowed when an unexpected language switch occurs when they are reading aloud. This anticipation effect was investigated using a picture-word translation task to compare English monolingual and Spanish-English bilinguals functioning in "monolingual mode." Monolingual and half of the bilinguals drew pictures or wrote English words for picture or English word stimuli; the remaining bilinguals drew pictures or wrote Spanish words for picture or Spanish word stimuli. Production onset latency was longer in cross-modality translation than within-modality copying, and the increments were equivalent between groups across stimulus and production modalities. Assessed within participants, bilinguals were slower than monolingual under intermixed but not under blocked trial conditions. Results indicate that the bilingual anticipation effect is not specific to language-mixing tasks. More generally, stimulus-processing uncertainty prevents establishment of a "base" symbolic-system procedure (concerning recognition, production, and intervening translation) and the inhibition of others. When this uncertainty is removed, bilinguals exhibit functional equivalence to monolinguals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-236
Number of pages7
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 1999


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