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23rd November 2022: Yi Wang

23rd November 2022 (Week 8 of term): Yi Wang, Cardiff University (In-person event in room 3.62 of the John Percival Building)

Title: How verbal labels modulate early Cantonese-English bilinguals’ perception and categorization of motion events

This study investigated how strongly verbal labels affect early Cantonese-English bilinguals’ perception and categorization of similar events. Using a triad-matching paradigm with the same participant populations (N=120), we compared monolingual and bilingual speakers’ performance on similarity judgements under three conditions (i.e., with either Cantonese- or English-based linguistic encoding, in silence, and with verbal interference) where their access to language was progressively reduced. It was found that bilinguals exhibited an English-like way in categorization preferences and processing efficiency (i.e., reaction time) as long as the access to language was possible during task performance. However, the observed cross-linguistic differences in categorization disappeared when the use of language was blocked by a concurrent verbal interference. These findings suggest that learning an L2 with even subtle typological differences can redirect people’s cognitive behaviour, and the magnitude of such impact is modulated by the degree to which verbal labels are activated during cognitive processing.