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Languages 2018, 3(3), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages3030027

Language Dominance, Verbal Fluency, and Language Control in two Groups of Russian–English Bilinguals

1
American Language and Culture Institute, California State University San Marcos, 333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Road, San Marcos, CA 92096, USA
2
Department of German Studies, University of Arizona, 301 Learning Services Building, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 14 March 2018 / Revised: 29 June 2018 / Accepted: 6 July 2018 / Published: 14 July 2018
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Abstract

This study explored language dominance, verbal fluency, and language control abilities of two groups of younger and older Russian–English bilinguals who had spent similar amounts of time as immigrants in the U.S. Verbal fluency tasks (based on letter and semantic cues, including a new method to elicit parallel letter-fluency data for Russian and English) were used to measure the bilinguals’ current lexical retrieval skills in addition to self-assessments of language proficiencies at time of study and time of arrival. Stroop tasks (naming colors with incongruent cues) were used to measure younger and older bilinguals’ ability to control interference during color-naming. Findings demonstrate that the older immigrants were less fluent in L2 naming tasks and that they remained dominant (more proficient) in their L1 whereas the younger immigrants had become relatively balanced bilinguals in terms of proficiency, fluent in both the L1 and L2. Younger and older bilinguals were equally capable of controlling interference across and within the two languages. We propose that it is not balance in bilingual proficiency that positively affects language control abilities, but balance as stability of language systems. Stability of language systems can be achieved if bilingual usage patterns remain relatively constant over several years and if no radical changes in language learning and maintenance efforts are required. View Full-Text
Keywords: lexical retrieval; verbal fluency; Stroop task; interference; language control; dominance; Russian–English bilinguals lexical retrieval; verbal fluency; Stroop task; interference; language control; dominance; Russian–English bilinguals
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Shishkin, E.; Ecke, P. Language Dominance, Verbal Fluency, and Language Control in two Groups of Russian–English Bilinguals. Languages 2018, 3, 27.

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