Over the centuries scholars have been interested in the area of bilingualism, especially in the ways the mother tongue affects the target language. There have also been studies exploring the influence which the L2 has on the L1. Beyond this, there are also questions related to the links between verbal and conceptual representations. Research in this, however, has mainly been confined to the relationships between thought and the first language. The present article addresses the following question: How do the L1 and L2 affect conceptual processing related to the same cognitive content? In the world of growing bilingual (and multilingual) population, this question is worth addressing. The issue, namely, is this: When a bilingual speaker processes conceptual content through the L1, within a speech event, certain associations are activated. When the same speaker processes the same, or corresponding, content through the L2, other associations are activated because the L2 was acquired in different circumstances. The present author has referred to this phenomenon as ‘associative shifts’. The article overviews the research studies addressing this issue and proposes tentative answers.
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