Crossovers and codeswitching in the investigation of immigrant autobiographical memory

  • Altman C
  • Schrauf R
  • Walters J
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Using a cue-word paradigm from autobiographical memory, we report on an investigation of bilingual memory and codeswitching among immigrant adults. The aims of the chapter are threefold: (1) to analyze the relationship between language and memory among bilingual immigrants via same language and crossover memories (memories which were cued in one language yet retrieved in the other language the bilingual knows); (2) to examine the extent to which immigration influences classical memory patterns; and (3) to find out whether behavioral evidence — codeswitching — exists to support immigrants' self-reported memory retrieval of crossover memories. Twelve English-Hebrew bilingual immigrants aged 64-79 were asked to retrieve specific memories to cue words in separate first language (L1) and second language (L2) sessions. Following retrieval of memories, participants were asked to report the decade of the memory event and the language in which the memory came to them. Results replicated Schrauf and Rubin (1998, 2000), showing evidence for a reminiscence bump (a higher than expected number of memories during the 10-30 age period) and a trend toward an immigration bump in bilinguals who immigrated at a later age. Overall, 40 percent of the memories recalled were "crossovers" (i.e., memories in a language that differed from the language of the experimental session, and Cue word). In an attempt to find behavioral correlates for "crossover" judgments, narratives from selected memories were examined for the extent of within-utterance bilingual codeswitching. Narratives elicited for selected memories revealed more codeswitching in crossover memories, showing evidence for a consistency between reported memories and bilingual language behavior. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved). (chapter)




Altman, C., Schrauf, R. W., & Walters, J. (2012). Crossovers and codeswitching in the investigation of immigrant autobiographical memory. In Memory, Language, and Bilingualism (pp. 211–235). Cambridge University Press.

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