Timed picture naming in seven languages

Elizabeth Bates, Simona D'Amico, Thomas Jacobsen, Anna Székely, Elena Andonova, Antonella Devescovi, Dan Herron, Ching Ching Lu, Thomas Pechmann, Csaba Pléh, Nicole Wicha, Kara Federmeier, Irini Gerdjikova, Gabriel Gutierrez, Daisy Hung, Jeanne Hsu, Gowri Iyer, Katherine Kohnert, Teodora Mehotcheva, Araceli Orozco-FigueroaAngela Tzeng, Ovid Tzeng

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

410 Scopus citations


Timed picture naming was compared in seven languages that vary along dimensions known to affect lexical access. Analyses over items focused on factors that determine cross-language universals and cross-language disparities. With regard to universals, number of alternative names had large effects on reaction time within and across languages after target-name agreement was controlled, suggesting inhibitory effects from lexical competitors. For all the languages, word frequency and goodness of depiction had large effects, but objective picture complexity did not. Effects of word structure variables (length, syllable structure, compounding, and initial frication) varied markedly over languages. Strong cross-language correlations were found in naming latencies, frequency, and length. Other-language frequency effects were observed (e.g., Chinese frequencies predicting Spanish reaction times) even after within-language effects were controlled (e.g., Spanish frequencies predicting Spanish reaction times). These surprising cross-language correlations challenge widely held assumptions about the lexical locus of length and frequency effects, suggesting instead that they may (at least in part) reflect familiarity and accessibility at a conceptual level that is shared over languages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-380
Number of pages37
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2003


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