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Title: A cross-linguistic study of the lexis of locomotion in second language learners of English
Author: Hill, D. J.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1993
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The lexical development of second language learners can be seen to involve them in a process of recategorization. This is also a lifelong, though progressively attenuated, feature in the first language. For the second language learner, however, the process is complicated by the possibility of lexico-semantic interaction between the first and later languages learned. The lexical focus of the study is on the semantic domain of locomotion, which is seen in cognitive semantic terms as a realization of the Source-Path-Goal schema. Talmy's typology of motion events provides the linguistic framework for the research programme. According to this typology, languages will tend to have a characteristic verb lexicalization pattern in which motion is conflated with either a Path or a Manner component. The language-learning context is one of learners of English as a second language in a multilingual African country - Kenya. The subjects in the study were drawn from three different first language communities - Luo, Nandi and Lunyore - the first two being Nilotic languages and the third a Bantu language. There were also two levels of L2 proficiency - intermediate and advanced. Four tasks were used to investigate the mental lexicon of the subjects in order to clarify the role of the L1 in lexical organization and use. Two tasks, involving story retelling and sentence completion, considered productive lexical usage and two, using sentence judging and card sorting, looked at receptive usage. Individual verb use was examined as well as Talmy's typology. The results support the view that the mother tongue does influence L2 vocabulary use, both receptive and productive, in quite subtle ways, such as lexicalization patterns, frequency of use of particular verbs, the understanding and acceptance of certain verbs. The influence will vary according to the nature of the task and between individuals. It also tends to decline with greater proficiency, although an established local variety of the L2 is likely to reinforce certain features.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available