A prosodic bias, not an advantage, in bilinguals interpretation of emotional prosody


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Publication Details

Author list: Champoux-Larsson, Marie-France;Dylman, Alexandra

Publication year: 2018

ISSN: 1366-7289

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1366728918000640


A bilingual advantage has been found in prosody understanding in pre-school children. To understand this advantage better, we asked 73 children (6-8 years) to identify the emotional valence of spoken words, based on either semantics or emotional prosody (which were either consistent or discrepant with each other). Bilingual experience ranged from no to equal exposure to and use of two languages. Both age and bilingual experience predicted accurate identification of prosody, particularly for trials where the semantics were discrepant with the targeted prosody. Bilingual experience, but not age, predicted a prosodic bias, meaning that participants had more difficulty ignoring the irrelevant discrepant prosody when the task was to identify the semantics of the word. The decline of a semantic bias was predicted by age and bilingual experience together. Our results suggest that previous findings on the bilingual advantage in prosody processing may in fact be driven by a prosodic bias.


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