Does bilingualism come with linguistic costs? A meta-analytic review of the bilingual lexical deficit

Emanuel Bylund, Jan Antfolk, Niclas Abrahamsson, Anne Marte Haug Olstad, Gunnar Norrman, Minna Lehtonen

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragÖversiktsartikelPeer review

4 Citeringar (Scopus)
11 Nedladdningar (Pure)


A series of recent studies have shown that the once-assumed cognitive advantage of bilingualism finds little support in the evidence available to date. Surprisingly, however, the view that bilingualism incurs linguistic costs (the so-called lexical deficit) has not yet been subjected to the same degree of scrutiny, despite its centrality for our understanding of the human capacity for language. The current study implemented a comprehensive meta-analysis to address this gap. By analyzing 478 effect sizes from 130 studies on expressive vocabulary, we found that observed lexical deficits could not be attributed to bilingualism: Simultaneous bilinguals (who acquired both languages from birth) did not exhibit any lexical deficit, nor did sequential bilinguals (who acquired one language from birth and a second language after that) when tested in their mother tongue. Instead, systematic evidence for a lexical deficit was found among sequential bilinguals when tested in their second language, and more so for late than for early second language learners. This result suggests that a lexical deficit may be a phenomenon of second language acquisition rather than bilingualism per se.

Sidor (från-till)897-913
Antal sidor17
TidskriftPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Tidigt onlinedatum3 nov. 2022
StatusPublicerad - juni 2023
MoE-publikationstypA2 Granska artikel i en vetenskaplig tidskrift


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