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The Interaction of Several Languages in the Cognitive System


  • Vladimir F. Spiridonov

    () (National Research University Higher School of Economics)

  • Emilia V. Ezrina

    () (Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration)


In this paper, we look into the interaction of several languages in a multilingual language system. Studies of three or more language-speakers are not common, with most research focused instead on various aspects of bilingualism. We believe, however, that research of processes happening when several (i.e. more than two) languages are used could provide the existing body of research with additional data about language interaction. In this study, we attempt to evaluate a multilevel network model shared between several languages which integrates lexical, semantic and syntactic information. To this end, we proposed an experimental paradigm in which trilingual participants translate phrases and sentences from their Language 2 to Language 3 (and vice versa) while they are primed subliminally with single words in Language 1. We planned to carry out a series of experiments where we manipulate the type of primes as well as the type of phrases and sentences. We hypothesized that Language 1 primes will interfere with the translation between Languages 2 and 3 leading to longer translation times and the amount of interference would vary in different conditions. Our hypotheses were confirmed only in part for some stimuli but not for others. The implications of these results for the existing models and theories are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Vladimir F. Spiridonov & Emilia V. Ezrina, 2015. "The Interaction of Several Languages in the Cognitive System," HSE Working papers WP BRP 40/PSY/2015, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hig:wpaper:40psy2015

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    Multilinguals; trilinguals; network model; parallel non-selective access; syntactic nodes; subliminal priming;

    JEL classification:

    • Z - Other Special Topics

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