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date: 25 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Being bilingual has consequences for lexical retrieval in either language, in some situations leading to reduced access to one of a bilingual’s languages—suggesting the possibility of language attrition. In this chapter, we consider how a general memory mechanism behind forgetting can inform the discussion of bilingual language control. In particular, we focus on retrieval induced forgetting (RIF), which is believed to be driven by inhibition. Research into the psycholinguistic mechanisms supporting bilingual language processing has similarly accumulated a growing body of evidence that inhibitory mechanisms play an important role in developing and maintaining proficiency in multiple languages. We consider whether the phenomenon of native language attrition in fact reflects language loss per se or instead reflects the dynamics of a highly-interactive language system that is constantly in flux.

Keywords: bilingual language control, retrieval-induced forgetting, inhibitory control, memory retrieval, cross-language interactions

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