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Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2015 Oct;10(10):1392-6. doi: 10.1093/scan/nsv028. Epub 2015 Mar 12.

Language and culture modulate online semantic processing.

Author information

1
Bangor University, LL58 2AS Bangor, UK.
2
University of Stirling, FK9 4LA Stirling, UK, and.
3
Swansea University, SA2 8PP Swansea, UK.
4
Bangor University, LL58 2AS Bangor, UK, manon.jones@bangor.ac.uk.

Abstract

Language has been shown to influence non-linguistic cognitive operations such as colour perception, object categorization and motion event perception. Here, we show that language also modulates higher level processing, such as semantic knowledge. Using event-related brain potentials, we show that highly fluent Welsh-English bilinguals require significantly less processing effort when reading sentences in Welsh which contain factually correct information about Wales, than when reading sentences containing the same information presented in English. Crucially, culturally irrelevant information was processed similarly in both Welsh and English. Our findings show that even in highly proficient bilinguals, language interacts with factors associated with personal identity, such as culture, to modulate online semantic processing.

KEYWORDS:

bilingualism; culture; linguistic relativity; semantics

PMID:
25767190
PMCID:
PMC4590539
DOI:
10.1093/scan/nsv028
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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