Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Linguistics
Current models of bilingual lexical systems represent a shared conceptual domain and separate, language-dependent domains. Regarding the second language domain, researchers propose L2 words share a direct connection to the conceptual domain only for fluent bilinguals. Conversely, for non-fluent bilinguals, L2 words lack a direct conceptual connection and instead are connected via L1 translation equivalents. However, previous studies confounded age of acquisition with proficiency as variables that contribute to concept mediation. The present thesis disentangles these variables’ respective effects on developing concept mediation. Thirteen heritage Arabic-English bilinguals are subject to a picture-naming task and a translation task. Heritage speakers’ response times match the concept mediation model irrespective of proficiency, with the exception of low proficiency speakers. These results indicate that for individuals who acquired a language at an early age, moderate loss of language proficiency may not remove lexico-conceptual links.