Cognate effects in naming across writing systems

Yen Na Cherry YUM, Hyun Kyung LEE

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


To examine lexical representations in multilinguals, researchers have long made use of cognates, which are words with similar orthographic or phonological forms referring to similar concepts in different languages. Cognates in a non-native language are easier to recognize and name relative to non-overlapping translations, i.e., non-cognates. Most previous studies examined cognate pairs that shared both orthographic and phonological forms written in the Roman alphabet, e.g., “table” is a French/English cognate that is visually identical and similar in pronunciation across the languages. By recruiting individuals with knowledge of different writing systems, this study aimed to contrast cognate effects on phonological access in alphabetic and non-alphabetic language pairs. Chinese/Japanese Kanji same-script cognates and English/Japanese Katakan across-script cognates were presented to Chinese-English-Japanese trilinguals and a control group of Chinese English bilinguals in Hong Kong. Participants engaged in word naming of cognates and non-cognates within each script (Chinese, Kanji, English, and Katakana). Preliminary data from 14 trilingual participants and30 control participants confirmed significant cognate effects in all scripts on naming accuracy (cognates >non-cognates) in the trilingual group but not the control group for Chinese and English. This suggested that cognate effects were robust even with minimal orthographic overlap (English/Katakana) and among cognate pairs with one-to-many phonological mappings (Chinese/Kanji). An interesting cross-language relationship also emerged where success in reading irregular English words correlated with Katakana but not Kanji naming accuracy, regardless of cognate status. This implied that reading of English and Katakana may share common phonological processing skills independent of shared lexical representations. Copyright © 2020 ARWA.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020
EventThe 4th Annual Conference for the Association for Reading and Writing in Asia -
Duration: 24 Sept 202025 Sept 2020


ConferenceThe 4th Annual Conference for the Association for Reading and Writing in Asia
Abbreviated titleARWA 2020


Yum, Y. N., & Lee, H. K. (2020, September). Cognate effects in naming across writing systems [Zoom]. Poster presented at the 4th Annual Conference for the Association for Reading and Writing in Asia (ARWA 2020), Beijing, China.


  • Cognate
  • Word naming
  • Writing systems


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