This paper presents the results of a study of how Polish-English bilinguals conceptualise and process picture - cues in their native language (L1). The study sought to discover whether and to what extent advanced proficiency in a second/foreign language has an observable impact on concept representation and language use in the L1. The underlying assumption was that each of the bilingual's languages is represented at three distinct levels, i.e. the lexical, semantic and conceptual level (Pavlenko 2002), and that concepts are stored in a representation common to both languages (De Groot 2002), while words and their meanings are stored in separate lexicons. Following from this, the contention is that L2 lexical transfer into the L1 could have its source in the conceptual system, which is affected by both proficiency in the bilingual's languages and the manner as well as context of language use (Pavlenko 2002). The findings will be discussed in the light of current research into bilingualism and within the framework of Cook's (1996) theory of multi-competence.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.