Bilingualism and Multilingualism: Memory, Cognition, and Emotion


Bilingual Memory



How do bilinguals represent/organize their two languages in memory? In this chapter, we answer this question by providing a general overview of some of the major theories psycholinguistics have employed to explain how bilinguals store and access (i.e., retrieve) information from and between their two languages. We start by reviewing early theoretical formulations, and then we go on to evaluate Paivio’s bilingual dual coding theory, and the highly influential hierarchical models that assume a bilingual memory structure composed of language-specific mental lexicons and a shared conceptual representation. Next, we critically evaluate the distributed model of bilingual memory that poses a bilingual memory structure based on word type. We conclude by evaluating the possibility that bilingual lexical access might be language-nonselective in which the bilingual’s two languages continuously interact and compete for activation during the language comprehension process. Our purpose in this chapter is to be critical and provide, where appropriate, both theoretical and methodological alternatives, as well as suggestions to extend bilingual research to other memory and language-processing domains. We begin by discussing and evaluating Weinreich’s (1953) original formulation.

Early Theoretical Formulations

In explaining bilingual language organization, Weinreich ...

Get The Handbook of Bilingualism and Multilingualism, 2nd Edition now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.