Monolingual and bilingual phonological activation in Cantonese

Ming YAN, Yingyi LUO, Jinger PAN

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review


Previous research has provided evidence for cross-language phonological activation during visual word recognition. However, such findings mainly came from alphabetic languages, and readers’ familiarity with the two scripts might differ. The present study aimed to test whether such cross-language phonological activation can be observed in Chinese, a logographic script, without the confounding factor of script familiarity as readers read the same script in different languages. Cantonese–Mandarin bilinguals were tested in an eye-tracking experiment in which they were instructed to read sentences silently. A target word in the sentence was replaced by either a homophone in both Cantonese and Mandarin, a homophone in Cantonese or in Mandarin only, or an unrelated character. The results showed that native Cantonese readers could activate phonological representations of L1 and L2 while reading Chinese sentences silently. However, the degree to which they relied on phonological decoding in L1 and L2 varied in the two languages. Copyright © 2023 The Author(s).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)751-761
JournalBilingualism: Language and Cognition
Issue number4
Early online dateFeb 2023
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023


Yan, M., Luo, Y., & Pan, J. (2023). Monolingual and bilingual phonological activation in Cantonese. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 26(4), 751-761.


  • Mandarin
  • Cantonese
  • Bilingualism
  • Phonology
  • Eye movement


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