Lexical-semantic organization in bilingual children: Evidence from a repeated word association task

Li Sheng*, Karla K. McGregor, Viorica Marian

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study examined lexical-semantic organization of bilingual children in their 2 languages and in relation to monolingual age-mates. Method: Twelve Mandarin-English bilingual and 12 English monolingual children generated 3 associations to each of 36 words. Responses were coded as paradigmatic (dog-cat) or syntagmatic (dog-bark). Results: Within the bilingual group, word association performance was comparable and correlated between 1st and 2nd languages. Bilingual and monolingual children demonstrated similar patterns of responses, but subtle group differences were also revealed. When between-group comparisons were made on English measures, there was a bilingual advantage in paradigmatic responding during the 1st elicitation and for verbs. Conclusion: Results support previous studies in finding parallel development in bilinguals' 1st- and 2nd-language lexical-semantic skills and provide preliminary evidence that bilingualism may enhance paradigmatic organization of the semantic lexicon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)572-587
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006


  • Bilingual
  • Lexical-semantic organization
  • Syntagmatic-paradigmatic shift
  • Word association

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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