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Cognitive Processes in Second Language Word Association

Page No.: 
5
Writer(s): 
John P. Racine

Abstract

This study utilizes a word association (WA) paradigm to infer similarities and differences between processes used to access the mental lexicons of native speakers (NS) and Japanese nonnative speakers of English (NNS). Three hypotheses were examined: a) grammatical word stimuli will elicit proportionately fewer paradigmatic responses than will content words; b) The proportion of phonologically-related responses will increase when stimuli are presented aurally rather than in written format;and c) NNS responses to infrequent words will not differ from responses to common words if a loan word equivalent exists in their first language (L1). Generally speaking, results concurred with established findings. Where results failed to validate the hypotheses, cognitive models are outlined to account for the data. In particular, a process model involving access to explicit knowledge of grammar rules is presented to account for the fact that NNS were less likely to respond to grammatical word stimuli with syntagmatic responses than were NS (χ2 = 15.22, p < .001, df = 1). Also, during aural presentation, only NNS responses, not NS responses, displayed more phonological similarities to their stimuli, suggesting the NNS rely on phonological cues in the absence of semantic knowledge. Similarly, NNS produced fewer semantic associates to low-frequency nouns with loan word equivalents than they did to commonly occurring nouns (χ2 = 3.89, p < .05, df = 1). In fact, NNS produced marginally more semantic responses to low-frequency nouns without loan word equivalents at all. A model postulating competition between cognitive processes that precipitate semantic responses and those instigated by the salience of phonological similarities between the stimuli and their loan word equivalents is proposed.

本研究は言語連想法を使い、英語の母語話者と非母語話者(日本語を母語とする英語学習者)のメンタル・レクシコンへのアクセスの過程の類似点と相違点を検証したものである。単語を被験者に提示し、それに対して返された連想語を文法、意味、音声の観点から分析した。総じて従来行われてきた調査結果とほぼ同様の結果が得られたが、中には異なる結果もあった。これまでとの相違点については、認知モデルに基づいて再解釈した。

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