The effects of task demands and word frequency on language source encoding

Elva-Natalia Strobach Oronoz, University of Texas at El Paso


Source memory effects have been relatively unexplored in bilingual memory. Bilinguals have to perform certain source encoding operations to successfully determine the appropriate language from context. These operations have not been examined from a long-term memory perspective, and are not incorporated into models of source monitoring. Further, language source information is not incorporated into the major models of bilingual language processing. Five experiments examined bilinguals’ language source monitoring for low- and high-frequency words in English and Spanish. Each experiment placed different processing demands on participants. In Experiment 1, participants studied a mixed-language word list, then were subsequently tested for language source discrimination using pictures. In Experiment 2, participants read English and Spanish sentences at study and were tested on language source using pictures. Experiment 3 had participants name pictures in English or Spanish at study, and language source discrimination was tested using pictures at test. In Experiment 4 participant heard words in English and Spanish and had to discriminate language source information using pictures. Finally, in Experiment 5, participants translated words at study and language source discrimination was tested using pictures. Across all five experiments we observed a low-frequency word advantage in language source discrimination. Similarly, a production advantage arose such that the language source of words that were produced was more accurately discriminated than for words that were comprehended. The results from these five experiments suggest that language should be incorporated into the major model of source memory as a salient source retrieval cue. Further, the results add evidence to a growing body of literature examining bilingual processing from a long-term memory perspective and inform the current models of bilingual processing.

Subject Area

Cognitive psychology|Language

Recommended Citation

Strobach Oronoz, Elva-Natalia, "The effects of task demands and word frequency on language source encoding" (2015). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10000753.