Word attributes predict the speed of translation from English to French : (Do they do so by facilitating first language processing?)
Wyss, Christian A.
Master of Arts
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It has been found that some attributes of a word predict how easy it will be to translate that word into a second language (Murray, 1986) . It is not clear whether these attributes are specific to translation itself or reflect the ease of access to the lexicon in the first language. The present study was designed to provide a replication of Murray^s results as well as to determine whether the word attributes that predict translation do so by facilitating processing in the first language, or by facilitating the production of a word in the second language. In a two phase study, twenty-six bilinguals identified English words from English non-words in a lexical decision task to provide a measure of first language processing. In the second phase they translated English words into French to replicate Murray (1986). The data were analyzed in two parts. First, following Murray, an item analysis which averaged response time over subjects was conducted for translation and lexical decision. A multivariate regression analysis of the scores revealed that word frequency was the best predictor of both translation ease and lexical access; and that number of synonyms, age of acquisition, and goodness correlated highly with both processes; memorability, similarity, and emotionality appear to be unique predictors of translation. Second, a within subject comparison of translation time with lexical decision times for words seen earlier in the experiment revealed that lexical decision reaction time had a small but highly reliable correlation with translation time. There was no pronounced effect of the lexical decision task on the speed of translation.