Cross-linguistic transfer and borrowing in bilinguals

Viorica Marian*, Margarita Kaushanskaya

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Cross-linguistic borrowing (overt use of words from the other language) and transfer (use of semantic or syntactic structures from the other language without active switching to that language) were examined during language production in Russian-English bilinguals. Grammatical category (noun/verb) and level of concreteness were found to influence language interaction. More cross-linguistic borrowings were found for nouns than for verbs and more cross-linguistic transfers were found for verbs than for nouns, suggesting that grammatical categories are differentially vulnerable to covert and overt language interaction. Moreover, concrete nouns and verbs were transferred more than abstract nouns and verbs, suggesting that level of concreteness influences lexical access in bilinguals. Overall, bilinguals transferred more when speaking their second and less proficient language and borrowed more when speaking their first and less recent language (especially if the described event took place in the other language). We suggest that language architecture (e.g., semantic representation, lexical access) and language environment influence the nature of cross-linguistic interaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-390
Number of pages22
JournalApplied Psycholinguistics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • General Psychology


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