On language attrition : lexical access in Singaporean English-Chinese bilinguals
Toh, Xiao Xuan
Date of Issue2016
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Language attrition has been shown to affect language processing skills of migrants, particularly lexical access. However, there has yet been a consensus as to whether lexical access during reception and production are affected to the same extent. Further, past studies primarily involved migrants who simultaneously experience the loss of their native language and acquisition of a new language, which presents difficulty in disentangling the effects of language attrition and language acquisition on the decline of language skills. This study investigated lexical access of early English-Chinese bilinguals during reception and production of Chinese words through a lexical decision task (LDT) and picture naming task (PNT). Quantitative results showed that speed of lexical access during Chinese word reading in the LDT is affected by language disuse, while qualitative analysis of erroneous responses made in the PNT suggested difficulties in lexical access during production. This indicates that lexical access during reception and, less definitively, production is affected by language attrition. The results also established grounds for attributing at least part of the language processing difficulties in migrants to language attrition, since lexical access difficulties were found in the early bilinguals whose language disuse did not coincide with the acquisition of a new language.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University