Visual Word Recognition in Hawai‘i Creole English: Bidialectal Effects on Reading

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2004-12-01
Authors
Inoue, Aya
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University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Department of Linguistics
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2004
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This paper reports on an experimental study investigating the visual word-recognition process in speakers of Hawai‘i Creole English (HCE). Its aim is to explore the effects of different orthographic and phonological systems as factors in visual word recognition by comparing the reaction patterns of 18 bidialectal English speakers from Hawai‘i to those of 18 monolingual/monodialectal English speakers from the Continental U.S. in naming stimuli words. The experiments consist of a naming task, a lexical decision task, and a memory test. HCE-orthography items as well as loanwords, nonwords, and Standard English (SE) control items were presented. For the HCE-orthography items, two different orthographies of HCE were tested—the phonology-based Odo orthography and an etymological orthography based on English spelling rules. The experimental results suggest an inhibitory effect of bidialectalism for the processing of unfamiliar visual forms: significantly longer reaction times for bidialectal speakers were observed for unfamiliar visual forms, although the two groups reacted very similarly to familiar visual forms. Bidialectal speakers arguably have more complex orthography-to-phonology mappings from the dual phonological systems (HCE, SE) they command. The results are consistent with the theoretical position that the bilingual language-processing system is nonselective in nature and that bilingual speakers activate stored knowledge from both languages in recognizing the targeted language (Dijkstra et al. 1999). I argue that the effect of language-nonselective activation is also observed in visual word recognition in bidialectal speakers. The implications of the results are discussed in the context of several fields, such as pidgin and creole linguistics, literacy and bidialectalism, and visual word recognition.
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linguistics
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Inoue, Aya. 2004. Visual Word Recognition in Hawai‘i Creole English: Bidialectal Effects on Reading. University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Working Papers in Linguistics 35(2).
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