Voluntary language switching: When and why do bilinguals switch between their languages?
de Bruin, Angela
Samuel, Arthur G.
Duñabeitia, Jon Andoni
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Angela de Bruin, Arthur G. Samuel, Jon Andoni Duñabeitia, Voluntary language switching: When and why do bilinguals switch between their languages?, Journal of Memory and Language, Volume 103, 2018, Pages 28-43, ISSN 0749-596X, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2018.07.005.
Bilingual language switching has been studied extensively in cued picture naming paradigms, instructing bilinguals when to switch between languages. However, in daily life, bilinguals often switch freely, without external instruction. This study examined when and why bilinguals switch voluntarily. Spanish-Basque bilinguals frequently switched between their languages and their language choice was related to the ease of lexical access. Words that were slow to be accessed in Basque were more often named in Spanish and vice versa. In terms of response times, switching costs were observed not only in the cued but also in the voluntary task. However, while cued switching showed a mixing cost (reflecting the cost associated with using two languages rather than one), a mixing benefit was observed for the voluntary task. This suggests that voluntarily using two languages may be less costly than having to stay in one language.