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Semantic generalization in French-English bilinguals Lamothe, Pauline Louise Marie

Abstract

In attempting to illustrate between-language semantic transfer French-English bilinguals were trained under a conditioning paradigm basically analogous to that used in unilingual semantic generalization studies. The major difference lay in the testing phase. That is, testing for conditioned responses (CRs) to the translations of the stimuli replaced testing for CRs to synonyms of the stimuli. Eight two-syllable nouns in both French and English were presented, with half the stimuli in each of the two languages paired with shock. Following the conditioning procedure shock was withheld and the translation of each of the stimuli was presented. Measures of Galvanic Skin Responses (GSRs) and digital and cephalic vasomotor activity were recorded during both training and testing. The results clearly indicated greater occurrence of GSRs to the translation of the words paired with shock than to the translation of the neutral words. There was no significant difference in the occurrence of digital vasomotor activity; however, cephalic readings suggested significant constriction to the translation of the stimuli which had been paired with shock. The occurrence of CRs to the translation of verbal stimuli suggests a form of mediated transfer from one language to another.

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