Effect of Word Origin in Romance Bilinguals



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English is a Germanic language which has, over time, been influenced by Latin and Ancient Greek and borrowing from other European languages, including French, Dutch, and German. Words in the English language which originate from Latin are usually of technical or academic register and acquired at later ages in development. This type of vocabulary is usually used by scholars. The English language also contains a word from the Anglo-Saxon/Germanic background. This words usually are of lower academic register and are learned at an earlier age. The purpose of this study was to see if speaking a romance language could be advantageous for bilinguals, especially in continuing higher levels of education. We used a lexical decision task where participants were presented with Latin origin words and non-words and Anglo-Saxon/Germanic origin words and non-words. The task consisted of deciding if the stimuli presented was a word or non-word. The hypothesis for the current study was that non-romance language speakers would be more accurate at identifying Anglo-Saxon root words, and romance language speakers would be more accurate at identifying Latin root words. Also, romance language speakers should be better at recognizing that presented pseudowords are in fact non-words due to their background in romance languages influenced by Latin. On the other hand, non-romance language speakers should have a harder time recognizing that presented Latin pseudowords are in fact nonwords. Results: overall romance language speaker participants scored higher on accuracy when presented with Latin origin stimuli but took longer at identifying the stimuli. Interesting enough romance language speakers also scored higher in accuracy when presented with Anglo-Saxon/Germanic origin stimuli. On the other hand, non-romance language speakers scored higher in accuracy at recognizing Latin origin non-words.