Of black sheep and white crows: Extending the bilngual dual coding theory to memory for idioms
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Are idioms stored in memory in ways that preserve their surface form or language or are they represented amodally? We examined this question using an incidental cued recall paradigm in which two word idiomatic expressions were presented to adult bilinguals proficient in Russian and English. Stimuli included phrases with idiomatic equivalents in both languages (e.g. “empty words/пycтыe cлoвa”) or in one language only (English—e.g. “empty suit/пycтoй кocтюм” or Russian—e.g. “empty sound/пycтoй звyк”), or in neither language (e.g. “empty rain/пycтoй дoждь”). If idioms are stored in a language-specific format, then phrases with idiomatic equivalents in both languages would have dual representation, and should therefore be more easily recalled than phrases with idiomatic meaning in only one language. This result was obtained. As such, the findings support the dual-coding theory of memory and are also compatible with models of the bilingual lexicon that include language tags or nodes.
dual coding theory