Probing into Native and Nonnative Students’ Mental Lexicon: a Case of Word Association Comparison

Keywords: mental lexicon, word association, paradigmatic link, syntagmatic relation, mental links.

Abstract

The present study compared British English speakers’ (native) and Iranian EFL learners’ (nonnative) mental lexicon structure focusing on how words are selected and used by the two groups. The types of word association links, syntagmatic and paradigmatic, more frequently applied by the two groups of the participants, were probed into. To this end, 40 native and 40 nonnative college students, both male and female, were compared as far as mental lexicon was concerned. Accordingly, through the Oxford Placement Test (OPT), the nonnative subjects were assigned to three ability levels; namely, high, mid and low. Next, the Word Association Test (WAT) was administered respectively to all native and nonnative participants. The comparison of the WAT results through a series of Chi-square tests and a test of Mann-Whitney indicated that the employed word association links varied among the native and nonnative participants. The findings revealed that the low and mid level nonnatives which comprised a majority of Iranian EFL learners employed the syntagmatic relation to a greater extent than the high level nonnatives. However, only one resemblance was observed between the natives and the high level nonnatives who frequently applied the paradigmatic link. Thus, it was concluded that the advanced Iranian learners performed in a similar way as that of the native English speakers; as a result, it was suggested that the improvement in the proficiency level could lead to a change in making mental links. The findings would contribute to the psychological concerns in language teaching and learning in most academic contexts of higher age ranges.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

References

Aitchison, J. (1994). Words in the mind )2nd Ed.). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
Aitchison, J. (1998). The articulate mammal: An introduction to psycholinguistics (4th Ed.). Oxon: Routledge Publishing.
Aitchison, J. (2003). Words in the mind (3rd Ed.). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
Barrow, S. (2011). First and second language word association. A study of how native English speakers and ESL learners make mental links between English words they have learnt. Unpublished masters thesis, University of Birmingham, Birmingham.
Carter, R. (1987). Vocabulary applied linguistics and perspectives. London: Routledge.
Channell, J. (1990). Precise and vague quantities in academic writing. In W. Nash (Ed.), The writing scholar: Studies in the language and conventions of academic discourse. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.
Coulthard, M., Knowles, M., Moon, R., & Deignan, A. (2000). Lexis (2nd Ed.). Birmingham: The center for English language studies, University of Birmingham.
Garnham, A. (1985). Psycholinguistics: Central topics. (1st Ed.). Cambridge: Routled.
Grabois, H. (1999). The convergence of sociocultural theory and cognitive linguistics. Lexical semantics and the L2 acquisition of love, fear, and happiness. In Palmer, G. B. (Ed.), Language of sentiment. (pp. 201–233). Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins Publishing Company, Retrieved 12 January, 2017 from http://site.ebrary.com/lib/bham/Doc?id=5000285&pp=207 https://doi.org/10.1075/aicr.18.11gra
Henriksen, B. (1999). Three dimensions of vocabulary development. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 21, 303–17. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263199002089
Khazaeenezhad, B., & Alibabaee, A. (2013). Investigating the role of language proficiency in word association behavior of L2 learners: a case of Iranian EFL learners. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 3(1), 108–115. https://doi.org/10.4304/tpls.3.1.108-115
Kiss, G. R., Armstrong, C., Milroy, R., & Piper, J. (1973). An associative thesaurus of English and its computer analysis. In Aitken, A. J., Bailey, R. W., Hamilton-Smith, N. (Eds.), The Computer and Literary Studies. University Press, Edinburgh.
McCarthy, M. (1990). Vocabulary. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Meara, P. (1982). Word associations in a foreign language: A report on the Birkbeck vocabulary project. Nottingham Linguistic Circular, 11(2), 29–31.
Meara, P. (1983). Word association in a foreign language. Nottingham Linguistics circular, 11(2), 29–38.
Peppard, J. (2007). Exploring the relationship between word-association and learners’ lexical development. Retrieved 29 January, 2017 from http://www.bhamlive1.bham.ac.uk/Documents/college artslaw/cels/essays/lexis/PeppardMod2.pdf
Piper, T. H., & Leicester, P. F. (1980). Word association behavior as an indicator of English language proficiency. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.
Russ, R. (2010). Word association. Retrieved 15 January, 2017 from http://www.kansaiu.ac.jp/fl/publication/pdf_forum/9/3_robin.pdf
Soderman, T. (1993). Word associations of foreign language learners and native speakers: The phenomenon of a shift in response type and its relevance for lexical development. In H. Ringbom (Ed.), Near-native proficiency in English. (pp. 91–182). Abo, Finland: Abo Akademi.
Stevens, A. (1994). Jung: A very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Swan, M. (1997). The influence of the mother tongue on second language vocabulary acquisition and use. In Schmitt & McCarthy. (pp. 156–180).
Wilks, C., & Meara, P. (2002). Untangling word webs: Graph theory and the notion of density in second language word association networks. Second Language Research, 18(4), 303–324. https://doi.org/10.1191/0267658302sr203oa
Wolter, B. (2001). A depth of individual word knowledge model. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 23, 41–69. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263101001024
Wolter, B. (2002). Assessing proficiency through word associations: is there still hope? System, 30, 315–329. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0346-251X(02)00017-9

Abstract views: 74
PDF Downloads: 60
Published
2019-04-18
How to Cite
Marzban, A., Sadegh Bagheri, M., Sadighi, F., & Rassaei, E. (2019). Probing into Native and Nonnative Students’ Mental Lexicon: a Case of Word Association Comparison. PSYCHOLINGUISTICS, 25(2), 197-213. https://doi.org/10.31470/2309-1797-2019-25-2-197-213