Language and culture modulate online semantic processing


Ellis C, Kuipers JR, Thierry G, Lovett V, Turnbull O & Jones MW (2015) Language and culture modulate online semantic processing. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 10 (10), pp. 1392-1396.

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.

linguistic relativity; bilingualism; culture; semantics

Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience: Volume 10, Issue 10

Publication date31/10/2015
Publication date online31/03/2015
Date accepted by journal04/03/2015
PublisherOxford University Press