Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics



First Advisor

Cynthia Kilpatrick

Second Advisor

Jeffrey D Witzel


This dissertation explores second language (L2) word recognition in different-script bilinguals (i.e., bilinguals whose first language (L1) is written in a different script than their L2). Previous examinations of L2 word recognition in different-script bilinguals have indicated that these bilinguals may deal with L2 orthographic similarities differently compared to L1 speakers and same-script bilinguals. Masked form priming studies testing L1 speakers (e.g., Davis & Lupker, 2006) and same-script L2 speakers (Bijeljac-Babic et al., 1997) have found evidence for a lexical competition mechanism during word recognition, through which formally-similar lexical representations compete for selection by inhibiting each other’s activation. Consistent with this lexical competition assumption, these studies have found inhibitory priming effects (slowed recognition of a target word) with formally-similar masked word primes. On the other hand, recognition of L2 words by different-script bilinguals is found to be facilitated, rather than inhibited, by formally-similar masked word primes (Nakayama & Lupker, 2018; Qiao & Forster, 2017). The experiments detailed in this dissertation explore the reason behind this unexpected pattern of L2 form priming effects in different-script bilinguals. Based on the results of highly-proficient Persian-English bilinguals in a series of form priming and translation priming experiments, we propose that, due to being slow at attaining detailed orthographic information from L2 words, different-script bilinguals may need extended exposure to an L2 word in order to differentiate it from formally-similar competitors. However, even with extended time for gathering and processing orthographic information from an L2 word, inhibitory priming does not arise, though facilitation is eliminated. This leads to the conclusion that the operation of lexical competition in L2 word recognition by different-script bilinguals is not identical to L1 word recognition.


Different-script bilinguals, Word recognition, Orthographic processing, Lexical competition


Linguistics | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

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