The multilingual lexicon

Ton Dijkstra

Published in print August 2007 | ISBN: 9780198568971
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:
The multilingual lexicon

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience



Although precise numbers are lacking, in the world at large there may be more multilinguals than monolinguals when we define “multilingualism” as the regular use of two or more languages. This prominence of multilingualism in the world has its consequences, of course, for educational systems (for example, with respect to foreign language teaching), but also for psycholinguistic research, because the language processing system might be differently organised in monolinguals and bilinguals. This article discusses structural, process, and context/control issues with respect to the multilingual lexicon, addressing the following questions: How are words stored in the mental lexicon of multilinguals? How does a multilingual retrieve words in reading, listening, and speaking? What is the effect of context and cognitive control on multilingual processing? What models have been proposed to account for the available data? What can cognitive neuroscience contribute to bilingualism? The article also looks at the process of multilingual word recognition, focusing on visual modality, auditory modality, models of bilingual word processing, multilingual word production, and contributions of cognitive neuroscience.

Keywords: multilingualism; multilingual lexicon; mental lexicon; multilinguals; context; cognitive control; cognitive neuroscience; bilingualism; word recognition

Article.  11200 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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