Lexical selection in bilingual language production: Evidence from a picture-naming task

Lea A. Hald, Janet L. Nicol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The goal of this study is to examine whether bilingual speakers can inhibit one language while naming pictures in the other. In two picture-word interference task experiments, Spanish-English and English-Spanish bilinguals named pictures in Spanish. We used language-neutral (nonword) interfering stimuli to probe the phonological activation of the nontarget language (English). Three different interfering stimulus conditions were presented: nonwords phonologically related to the Spanish picture name (Phono-Spanish), nonwords phonologically related to the English picture name (Phono-English) and phonologically unrelated nonwords (Unrelated). When participants named pictures in Spanish (Experiment 1), facilitation was found for both groups in the Phono-Spanish condition. No interference was found in the Phono-English condition for either group. From this result and the results of a control experiment in which participants named pictures in English (Experiment 2), we argue that under some circumstances, bilinguals are able to effectively inhibit the nontarget language during language production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-292
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Second Language Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 27 2021


  • Bilingual speech
  • Coactivation
  • Language production
  • Lexical selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Education


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