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Faster Isn't Necessarily Better: The Role of Individual Differences on Processing Words with Multiple Translations

Smith, Courtney J. (2007) Faster Isn't Necessarily Better: The Role of Individual Differences on Processing Words with Multiple Translations. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Words that can translate several ways into another language have only recently been examined in studies of bilingualism. The present study examined how individual differences in working memory span and interference affect the processing of such words during a translation task. 20 English-Spanish bilinguals performed a Stroop task and an operation word span task to determine their interference abilities and working memory spans, respectively. They then translated from English to Spanish and Spanish to English 239 words that varied in number of translations and concreteness. Bilinguals with lower interference and lower working memory spans were predicted to have the fastest response times for words with multiple translations, due to the ability to better suppress irrelevant information as well as limited capacity to hold several competing translations of a word in memory at once. Individuals with higher interference and higher working memory spans were predicted to be able to access and hold in memory all possible meanings of the word at once, yielding slower response times. The results demonstrated that interference and working memory span did predict response times in the translation task in accordance with the hypotheses, and can have significant impact on several aspects of translation.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Smith, Courtney J.cjs47@pitt.eduCJS47
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairTokowicz, Natashatokowicz@pitt.eduTOKOWICZ
Committee MemberReichle, Erikreichle@pitt.eduREICHLE
Committee MemberSunderman,
Committee MemberWarren, Tessatessa@pitt.eduTESSA
Date: 16 July 2007
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 13 April 2007
Approval Date: 16 July 2007
Submission Date: 27 April 2007
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
David C. Frederick Honors College
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: concreteness; L2 proficiency; language ambiguity; multilinguism
Other ID:, etd-04272007-112918
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:42
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:42


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