Multilink: a computational model for word translation

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All bilinguals, even children, are capable of quickly translating words from one language into another. This is surprising, because word translation requires complex interactions of language comprehension and production under executive control. This thesis describes an implemented localist-connectionist model, called Multilink, that describes the word translation process in the way humans perform the task. It accounts for the performance of high and low second language (L2) proficient bilinguals in tasks like forward (L1 ! L2) and backward (L2 ! L1) word translation, as well as lexical decision and language decision. Simulations are presented (based on a large set of stimuli; 4017 English words and 2180 Dutch words) that compare Multilink to monolingual and bilingual Interactive Activation models and consider the recognition of cognates (form-similar translation equivalents) and the translation of non-cognates. In the monolingual simulations remarkably high correlations were found between Multilink and empirical data. A model-to-model comparison of Multilink to the Interactive Activation model yielded a favorable outcome for Multilink. Only on the word length effect, the model did not fully meet our expectations. In the bilingual domain, a model-to-model comparison between Multilink and the Bilingual Interactive Activation model again yielded a favorable outcome for Multilink. The word length effect was also re-examined in the bilingual domain, this time with outcomes that were in line with our expectations. Simulations on cognates and non-cognates processing show that Multilink is capable of handling words of cross-linguistic similarities and differences. Finally, in the translation simulations of non-cognates, the same asymmetry was found as predicted by the Revised Hierarchical Model, a theoretical model of word translation. However, where the Revised Hierarchical Model assumes this asymmetry is the result of word form links between L1 and L2 word form representations, Multilink observed the same asymmetry in forward and backward translation without the presence of word form links between L1 and L2 word form representations. Thus, the model shows that the empirical data do not require the presence of word form links between L1 and L2 word form representations as suggested by the Revised Hierarchical Model.
Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen