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Revisiting the neighborhood: how L2 proficiency and neighborhood manipulation affect biliingual processing

Mulder, Kimberley; van Heuven, Walter J.B.; Dijkstra, Ton


Kimberley Mulder

Ton Dijkstra


We conducted three neighborhood experiments with Dutch–English bilinguals to test effects of L2 proficiency and neighborhood characteristics within and between languages. In the past 20 years, the English (L2) proficiency of this population has considerably increased. To consider the impact of this development on neighborhood effects, we conducted a strict replication of the English lexical decision (ELD) task by van Heuven et al. (1998, Experiment 4). In line with our prediction, English characteristics (neighborhood size, word and bigram frequency) dominated the word and non-word responses, while the non-words also revealed an interaction of English and Dutch neighborhood size. The prominence of English was tested again in two experiments introducing a stronger neighborhood manipulation. In ELD and progressive demasking, English items with no orthographic neighbors at all were contrasted with items having neighbors in English or Dutch (‘hermits’) only, or in both languages. In both tasks, target processing was affected strongly by the presence of English neighbors, but only weakly by Dutch neighbors. Effects are interpreted in terms of two underlying processing mechanisms: language-specific global lexical activation and lexical competition.


Mulder, K., van Heuven, W. J., & Dijkstra, T. (2018). Revisiting the neighborhood: how L2 proficiency and neighborhood manipulation affect biliingual processing. Frontiers in Psychology, 9,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 11, 2018
Online Publication Date Oct 4, 2018
Publication Date Oct 4, 2018
Deposit Date Oct 4, 2018
Publicly Available Date Oct 4, 2018
Journal Frontiers in Psychology
Electronic ISSN 1664-1078
Publisher Frontiers Media
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Article Number 1860
Keywords Bilingual word processing; Hermit words; Orthographic neighborhood size; Lexical decision; Progressive demasking
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