Language dominance, verbal fluency, and language control in two groups of russian–english bilinguals

Elena Shishkin, Peter Ecke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This study explored language dominance, verbal fluency, and language control abilities of two groups of younger and older Russian–English bilinguals who had spent similar amounts of time as immigrants in the U.S. Verbal fluency tasks (based on letter and semantic cues, including a new method to elicit parallel letter-fluency data for Russian and English) were used to measure the bilinguals’ current lexical retrieval skills in addition to self-assessments of language proficiencies at time of study and time of arrival. Stroop tasks (naming colors with incongruent cues) were used to measure younger and older bilinguals’ ability to control interference during color-naming. Findings demonstrate that the older immigrants were less fluent in L2 naming tasks and that they remained dominant (more proficient) in their L1 whereas the younger immigrants had become relatively balanced bilinguals in terms of proficiency, fluent in both the L1 and L2. Younger and older bilinguals were equally capable of controlling interference across and within the two languages. We propose that it is not balance in bilingual proficiency that positively affects language control abilities, but balance as stability of language systems. Stability of language systems can be achieved if bilingual usage patterns remain relatively constant over several years and if no radical changes in language learning and maintenance efforts are required.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number27
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2018


  • Dominance
  • Interference
  • Language control
  • Lexical retrieval
  • Russian–English bilinguals
  • Stroop task
  • Verbal fluency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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