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Conceptual representation in bilinguals: the role of language specificity and conceptual change

Athanasopoulos, P. (2015) Conceptual representation in bilinguals: the role of language specificity and conceptual change. In: Schwieter, J. W. (ed.) Cambridge Handbook of Bilingual Processing. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. ISBN 9781107060586

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Abstract/Summary

Most prominent models of bilingual representation assume a degree of interconnection or shared representation at the conceptual level. However, in the context of linguistic and cultural specificity of human concepts, and given recent findings that reveal a considerable amount of bidirectional conceptual transfer and conceptual change in bilinguals, a particular challenge that bilingual models face is to account for non-equivalence or partial equivalence of L1 and L2 specific concepts in bilingual conceptual store. The aim of the current paper is to provide a state-of-the-art review of the available empirical evidence from the fields of psycholinguistics, cognitive, experimental, and cross-cultural psychology, and discuss how these may inform and develop further traditional and more recent accounts of bilingual conceptual representation. Based on a synthesis of the available evidence against theoretical postulates of existing models, I argue that the most coherent account of bilingual conceptual representation combines three fundamental assumptions. The first one is the distributed, multi-modal nature of representation. The second one concerns cross-linguistic and cross-cultural variation of concepts. The third one makes assumptions about the development of concepts, and the emergent links between those concepts and their linguistic instantiations.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Clinical Language Sciences
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Language and Cognition
ID Code:36666
Publisher:Cambridge University Press

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