22. Consequences of bilingualism: Embracing the complexity

sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, creativity, attrition, emotion

Luna Filipović, University of East Anglia
Viorica Marian, Northwestern University

This thematic section brings together seven papers that explore the consequences of bilingualism in a variety of domains ranging from form to meaning to discourse. It considers implications of bilingualism for basic science (Marian, Altarriba), education (Kharkhurin, Vaid), healthcare (Meuter), and legal settings (Filipović), as well as socio-political policies such as immigration (Isurin). Note that this thematic section does not pit monolinguals against bilinguals, nor does it advocate for or against benefits of bilingualism; rather, it presents research focused on when and why effects of bilingualism can be detected and discusses the connections between language, cognition and culture.
In studying the consequences of multilingualism for creativity, Kharkhurin emphasizes the need to take a broader, more holistic perspective that considers the emotional, cognitive, and sociocultural dimensions that characterize multilingual experience. Meuter and Nissen extend this notion to the domain of health communication, by considering how culture and language interact to shape bilinguals' understanding of risk-related adverbs (e.g., possibly, likely, etc.). Combining both qualitative and quantitative methods, Isurin explores the sociolinguistic (e.g., identity, language attitudes) and psycholinguistic (e.g., cross-linguistic semantic overlap) factors that contribute to language attrition. The challenge of attaching multiple words to the same concept is further explored by Altarriba, who demonstrates that the ease and efficiency of language translation is moderated by characteristics of both the task (e.g. L1-L2 or L2-L1), and the word (e.g., concreteness, emotionality). Filipović demonstrates that inconsistencies in the „bilingual advantage” for witness memory can be better understood by considering the typology of bilinguals' two languages, as well as the context and mode of language use (e.g., single vs. dual language). Vaid similarly investigates the joint effects of language and learner, in this case for the perception and processing of sound, showing that the circumstances of language acquisition and use moderate the influence of language-specific (English vs. Hindi) orthographic features. Lastly, Marian provides a broad perspective on the consequences of bilingualism across domains by showing that the challenges and circumstances of multilingual experience have a diverse and far-reaching impact, ranging from lower-level sensory processing (e.g., audiovisual integration) to higher-order cognition (e.g., medical decision-making).
The section is rounded off with a brief summary of conclusions from all presentations and a discussion of current and future directions in the study of bilingual cognition in research and applied settings.

  1. Plurilingual Creativity: Expanded framework for research in the consequences of acquisition and use of multiple languages for creative behavior, Anatoliy V. Kharkhurin
  2. Judging likelihood of outcomes in health communication: How does Russian bilinguality affect the interpretation of risk and certainty adverbs in English?, Renata F.I. Meuter and Vanda Nissen
  3. Bilingualism: Gains, losses and something in between, Ludmila Isurin
  4. Translation and language switching—The costs and benefits of working in multiple languages, Jeanette Altarriba
  5. Bilingual advantage for memory: Why now you see it, now you don’t?, Luna Filipović 
  6. Consequences of bilingualism are differentially shaped by literacy in a language: Evidence from Hindi-English users, Jyotsna Vaid
  7. Bilingualism changes how we perceive and process information, Viorica Marian and Sayuri Hayakawa
  8. Categorization of the bilingual world: grouping the reality based on linguistic context, Jon Andoni Duñabeitia and Eneko Antón
  9. Investigating language entropy as a predictor of cognitive control in bilinguals using pupillometry, Thomas Tienkamp, Floor van den Berg, Jelle Brouwer and Merel Keijzer
  10. The Effects of Bilingualism and Working Memory Capacity on Autobiographical Memory Retrieval, Emma Libersky, Kimberly Crespo, Autumn Reppe and Margarita Kaushanskaya
  11. Burning questions that need addressing in future research – round table