Examining Language Interactivity Through Classifier Masked Primes in Chinese-English Bilinguals


  • Wen Jiang University of Florida
  • Dr. Jorge Valdés Kroff




bilingual, lexical decision, masked prime, Chinese, classifier, measure word


One universal characteristic of human languages is grammatical agreement dependencies. In Mandarin Chinese, classifiers, or measure words, are an obligatory grammatical class used to characterize a quantified noun. The classifier is inserted in between the numeral and the noun (i.e., 一张票 yī zhāng piào, one ticket). English lacks classifiers, so their use in Chinese may lead to cross-language influence for bilinguals and second language learners. Previous research has investigated language interactivity in bilinguals, commonly through the masked priming lexical decision task (LDT), a psycholinguistic task where participants decide if a sequence of characters form a real word or not. This study investigated Chinese-English bilinguals at the University of Florida (n= 24). The experimental group consisted of Chinese-dominant bilinguals who have been in an immersive English environment for at least one semester. The control group included monolingual or dominant English bilingual speakers with another language other than Chinese. Participants completed two LDTs in a within–subjects design. Part 1 featured Chinese (L1) classifier masked primes in an overt English (L2) LDT. Part 2 featured L1 translated masked primes sharing a common classifier with target words in the overt L2 LDT. The results indicated no interaction effect between group and congruency conditions in either part (p = 0.334; p = 0.889). These findings reveal no effect of classifier primes in Chinese-English bilinguals, suggesting minimal, or the absence of cross-language influence in this context.


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Social & Behavioral Sciences, Business, Education