Language control in regional dialect speakers – monolingual by name, bilingual by nature?

Neil W. Kirk*, Mathieu Declerck, Ryan J. Kemp, Vera Kempe

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)
    34 Downloads (Pure)


    While research on bilingual language processing is sensitive to different usage contexts, monolinguals are still often treated as a homogeneous control group, despite frequently using multiple varieties that may require engagement of control mechanisms during lexical access. Adapting a language-switching task for speakers of (Scottish) Standard English and Orcadian Scots, we demonstrate switch cost asymmetries with longer naming latencies when switching back into Orcadian. This pattern, which is reminiscent of unbalanced bilinguals, suggests that Orcadian is the dominant variety of these participants - despite the fact they might be regarded as English monolinguals because of sociolinguistic factors. In conjunction with the observed mixing cost and cognate facilitation effect (indicative of proactive language control and parallel language activation, respectively), these findings show that ‘monolinguals’ need to be scrutinised for routine use of different varieties to gain a better understanding of whether and how mechanisms underlying their lexical access resemble those of bilinguals.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)511-520
    Number of pages10
    JournalBilingualism: Language and Cognition
    Issue number3
    Early online date22 Dec 2021
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022


    • Language control
    • Language switching
    • Dialect
    • Bilingualism
    • Bidialectal
    • Monolingual


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