Bilingualism: Language and Cognition

Competing activation in bilingual language processing: Within- and between-language competition 1

a1 Northwestern University
a2 Cornell University


Two eye-tracking experiments examined spoken language processing in Russian-English bilinguals. The proportion of looks to objects whose names were phonologically similar to the name of a target object in either the same language (within-language competition), the other language (between-language competition), or both languages at the same time (simultaneous competition) was compared to the proportion of looks in a control condition in which no objects overlapped phonologically with the target. Results support previous findings of parallel activation of lexical items within and between languages, but suggest that the magnitude of the between-language competition effect may vary across first and second languages and may be mediated by a number of factors such as stimuli, language background, and language mode.

(Received November 11 1999)
(Accepted January 28 2003)

c1 Address for correspondence Dr. Viorica Marian, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Northwestern University, 2299 North Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208-3570, USA E-mail:


1 The authors wish to thank Ton Dijkstra and Judy Kroll for helpful comments on this work, as well as the editors and reviewers for valuable suggestions and comments on the manuscript. We also thank our students, Nora Chan and Alex Raichew for assisting with Experiment 1, Eugene Shildkrot and Olga Kats for assisting with Experiment 2, and Margarita Kaushanskaya for help with phonetic transcriptions and with tables.