Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Lauren Covey

Committee Member

Larissa Goulart

Committee Member

Longxing Wei


This study examines language switch costs, as there is a recent body of work showing that there are behavioral "costs" involved when bilinguals switch between their two languages. A particular point of debate concerns symmetry, regarding whether it is more costly (i.e., takes longer) to switch from one of a bilinguals’ languages to the other, or vice versa. In the current study, a partial replication of (Struck & Jiang, 2022), data was collected online from 90 Urdu- English bilinguals living in the US and Pakistan on a language background questionnaire, and a Lexical Decision Task (LDT), designed to measure the effects of language switching. Two moderating variables were investigated in the current study, the role of language environment (i.e., whether subjects were immersed in either an English- or Urdu-speaking environment) and self-rated proficiency. In order to measure switch costs, reaction times (RTs) to responses were recorded during the LDT; data were analyzed through linear mixed-effects models. The study examined the effect of Switching (Urdu-English vs. English-Urdu) and Response, categorized as either repetition (e.g., participants pressed the same button twice) or response change. Results revealed an overall effect of Language, such that subjects showed faster RTs to English words compared to Urdu words. However, we did not replicate previous findings and found no effect of language Switching, with similar RTs observed in both types of switching. Interestingly, when language environment was included as a factor in the LME model, an interaction between Response and Language emerged, such that English RTs were found faster in comparison to the Urdu RTs. In sum, this study provides new insights into language switching, revealing novel results from a new language pair/population, which may contribute to the complex findings.

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Linguistics Commons