A network model of lexical organisation in the bilingual brain

In this article a novel approach to modelling the mental lexicon of bilingual speakers is presented. It assumes non-selective, integrated organisation, as supported by much of the recent psycholinguistic evidence, and suggests how a principle of cortical proximity of near-equivalent mediatory ‘word columns' in two languages could facilitate the operation of intertwined language-specific networks. Such networks are seen as distinguished by differential phonological anchoring. The model emphasises the level of lexical concepts and the recombination of shared bundles of ‘micro-functional' features in processes likely to be involved in expressing the same conceptual content in one language or the other. This is illustrated with examples of the hypothetical production of near-equivalent English and French sentences by a bilingual speaker. It is proposed that fluent bilinguals utilize the micro-functional level more fully than late second language learners, thus largely bypassing the need for lexeme-to-lexeme translation.

Key words: mental lexicon, bilingualism, network model, lexical concepts, translation

References

Abutalabi, J., & Green, D.W. (2007). Bilingual language production.: the neurocognition of language representation and control. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 20, 242-275.

Caramazza, A., Hillis, A.E., Rapp, B.C., & Roman, J.C. (1990). The multiple semantics hypothesis - multiple confusions. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 7(3), 161-189.

Damasio, H., Grabowski, T., Tranel, D., Hichwa, R., & Damasio, A. (1996). A neural basis for lexical retrieval. Nature, 380, 11 April 1996, 499-505.

de Bot, K. (2004). The multilingual lexicon. International Journal of Multilingualism, 1(1), 17-32.

de Groot, A.M.B. (1992). Determinants of word translation. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 18, 1001-1018.

Démonet, J.-F., Thierry, G. & Cardebat, D. (2005). Renewal of the neurophysiology of language: functional neuroimaging. Physiological Reviews, 85, 49-95.

Ding, G., Perry, C., Peng, D., Ma, L., Li, D., Xu, S., Luo, Q., Xu, D., & Yang, J. (2003). Neural mechanisms underlying semantic and orthographic processing in Chinese-English bilinguals. NeuroReport, 14 (12), 1557-1562.

Dong, Y., Gui, S., & MacWhinney, B. (2005). Shared and separate meanings in  the bilingual mental lexicon. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 8 (3), 221-238.

Evans, V. (2009). How Words Mean. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Fortescue, M. (2007). How to catch a mental model by the tale. Acta Linguistica Hafniensia, 39, 125-152.

Fortescue, M. (2009). A Neural Network Model of Lexical Organisation. London/New York: Continuum.

Fortescue, M. (2010). A neural network approach to compositionality and co-compositionality. The Mental Lexicon, 5(2), 180-204.

Gibson, J. (1979). The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Boston:

  Houghton Mifflin.

Jacquet, M., & French, R.M. (2002). The BIA++: Extending the BIA+ to a dynamical distributed connectionist framework. Bilingualism, 5(3), 2002-205.

Jung-Beeman, M. (2005). Bilateral brain processes for comprehending natural language. Trends in Cognitive Science, 9(11), 512-518.

Kroll, J.F, & Stewart, E. (1994). Category interference in translation and picture naming: evidence for asymmetric connections between bilinguals memory representations. Journal of Memory and Language, 33, 149-174.

Levelt, W.J.M. (1993). The architecture of normal spoken language use. In G. Blanken (ed.) Linguistic Disorders and Pathologies: An International Handbook,  (pp. 1-15). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

Lowie, W., & Verspoor, M. (2011). The dynamics of multilingualism: Levelt's speaking model revisited.  In M.S. Schmid & Lowie, W. (eds.) Modeling Bilingualism (pp. 267-287). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Mountcastle, V.B. (1998). Perceptual Neuroscience. The Cerebral Cortex. Cambridge MA and London, England: Harvard University Press.

Paradis, M. (2004). A Neurolinguistic Theory of Bilingualism. Amsterdam/ Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Perani, D., Capa, S.F., Schnur, T., Tettamanti, M., Collina, S., Rosa, M.M., & Fazio, F. (1999). The neural correlates of noun and verb processing. A PET study. Brain, 122, 2337-44.

Pulvermüller, F., & Schumann, J.H. (1994). Neurobiological mechanisms of language acquisition. Language Learning, 44, 681-734.

Slobin, D. (1991). Learning to think for speaking: native language, cognition, and rhetorical style. Pragmatics, 1: 7-26.

Thierry, G., & Wu, Y.J. (2007). Brain potentials reveal unconscious translation during foreign language comprehension. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104, 12530-12535.

Ullman, M.T. (2001). The declarative/procedural model of lexicon and grammar. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 30(1), 37-69.

van Heuven, W.J.B., & Dijkstra, T. (2010). Language comprehension in the bilingual brain: fMRI and ERP support for psycholinguistic models. Brain Research Reviews, 64, 104-122.

Warrington, E.K, & Shallice, T. (1984) Category specific semantic impairments. Brain 107, 829-845.

Download

Download full text of the article as PDF