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The Multilingual Lexicon

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  • Donald Z. Osborn
    FYI... Date: Wed, 5 May 2004 18:16:31 -0400 (EDT) From: Orna Ferenz Subject: The Multilingual Lexicon Cenoz, Jasone, Britta Hufeisen
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 27, 2004

      Date: Wed, 5 May 2004 18:16:31 -0400 (EDT)
      From: Orna Ferenz <ferenzo@...>
      Subject: The Multilingual Lexicon

      Cenoz, Jasone, Britta Hufeisen and Ulrike Jessner, ed. (2003) The
      Multilingual Lexicon, Kluwer Academic Publishers.

      Announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/15/15-141.html

      Orna Ferenz, Bar Ilan University, Israel


      Cenoz et al. have brought together a collection of articles addressing various
      aspects of the multilingual lexicon, such as multilingual processing, transfer
      in multilinguals, and the neurolinguistics of multilingualism. The general aim
      of the book is to contribute to the increasing knowledge of how multilingual
      individuals acquire and process language. The volume accomplishes this by
      providing theoretical and empirical studies on the multilingual lexicon thereby
      advancing the development of multilingualism as a specific area of research.
      The book consists of 12 chapters, presenting current theoretical and empirical
      studies on the multilingual lexicon. The contributing articles are arranged in
      four sections. Section One consists of chapters 2 and 3 which discuss the
      issue of multilingual processing during perception, production, and related
      tasks. Section Two consists of chapters 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 which focus on the
      issue of transfer in multilinguals by considering the impact of different
      mechanisms and directions on the interaction between a multilingual's
      languages. Section Three consists of chapters 9 and 10 which consider various
      learning issues, including strategies, such as inferencing, and vocabulary
      acquisition. Section Four includes chapter 11, presenting current
      neurolinguistic research on bi- and multilinguals' brain activity during
      language activation, and chapter 12, which considers the issues raised in the
      preceding chapters in relation to current discussions on the multilingual
      mental lexicon.

      Chapter 1: Why investigate the multilingual lexicon (Jasone Cenoz, Britta
      Hufeisen, & Ulrike Jessner) serves as an introduction, introducing the reader
      to the widespread phenomenon of multilingualism, reviewing the limited research
      in the field, and raising issues of relevance to multilingual lexicon research.
      The chapter also provides an overview of each of the articles in the book,
      summarizing each article in one or two paragraphs.

      Chapter 2: Lexical processing in bilinguals and multilinguals (Ton Dijkstra)
      focuses on the factors that may help multilinguals solve their word selection
      problem during visual word recognition. The writer presents the Bilingual
      Interactive Activation model and extends it to account for multilinguals focus
      on word recognition during reading. Among the factors that are presented are
      the non-linguistic (expectation, instruction) and linguistic (syntactic,
      lexical) effects of context on relative language activation resulting in one
      language possibly being activated and the others being deactivated or
      relatively active. The author presents data from a number of studies to
      illustrate the issues discussed.

      Chapter 3: The transfer-appropriate-processing approach and the trilingual's
      organization of the lexicon (Ute Schonpflug) attempts to clarify the issue of
      conceptual interconnections between second (L2) and third (L3) languages.
      Bilingual and trilingual language processing is considered at the prelinguistic
      and conceptual level and at the semantic-conceptual-lexical level. Research
      presented on word fragments completion emphasizes data-driven versus
      concept-driven processing and the roles of word parts in identifying correct
      word target. Furthermore, results indicate that passive and active competence
      in languages (L2 / L3) influences the speed of word completion.

      Chapter 4: The nature of cross-linguistic interaction in the multilingual system
      (Ulrike Jessner) presents a new perspective on the characteristic features of
      transfer phenomenon occurring when three languages are in contact. The article
      reviews cross-linguistic influence (CLI) literature, and considers the
      theoretical confusion regarding the nature of transfer phenomenon. Data are
      presented on metalinguistic thinking with the use of L1, L2, and L3. Findings
      suggest that subjects use their different languages in association with
      avoidance, simplification, and over-monitoring strategies. Jessner proposes
      that the transfer phenomenon should be considered as a coherent set of
      linguistic phenomena consisting of transfer, inteference, code-switching and
      borrowing phenomena.

      Chapter 5: Activation of lemmas in the multilingual mental lexicon and transfer
      in third language learning (Longxing Wei) explains the causes of learner errors
      by describing how language-specific lemmas in the multilingual mental lexicon
      are activated in language learning and speech production processes. A review
      of current psycholinguistic models of language acquisition is given, followed
      by models of language transfer. The author then discusses interlanguage
      transfer as a phenomenon of competing language systems in multilingualism. The
      article presents a model of multilinguistic lemma activation in L3 production.
      The nature of learner errors is defined in terms of the nature of the
      multilingual mental lexicon. Sources of learner's errors are described in
      terms of interlanguage transfer. Interlanguage transfer refers to the use of a
      multilingual's other languages, for example L1 and L2, when there are
      insufficient L3-specific entries in the mental lexicon to produce the desired

      Chapter 6: Parasitism as a default mechanism in L3 vocabulary acquisition
      (Christopher J. Hall and Peter Ecke) presents a model of vocabulary acquisition
      based on detection and exploitation of similarities between novel lexical input
      and prior lexical knowledge. The Parasitic model presupposes that new words are
      integrated into existing lexical network with least possible redundancy and as
      rapidly as possible in order to become accessible for communication. The
      authors propose that the multilingual lexicon admits cross-linguistic transfer
      (CLI) from all possible source languages and at all representational levels.
      Their findings indicate that CLI at the form level comes from a speaker's L3,
      at the conceptual level from L2, and at the frame level from L1; however, L2
      appears to have the greatest effect.

      Chapter 7: Investigating the role of prior foreign language knowledge (Martha
      Gibson and Britta Hufeisen) highlights different stages and aspect of the
      foreign and second language production processes. The article presents a study
      in which participants undertook a translation task from an unknown language to
      a known language. The purpose of the study was to investigate the role of
      previous languages in production processes. Results indicate that subjects
      used their previous languages for the task, resulting in transfer and
      cross-linguistic interaction. The language skills utilized by the subjects
      included using metalinguistic knowledge, knowledge of text cohesion and
      coherence, and their relationship to general world knowledge.

      Chapter 8: The role of typology in the organization of the multilingual lexicon
      (Jasone Cenoz) examines the effect of language typology on the selection and
      activation of a language in the multilingual lexicon during L3 production.
      Cenoz proposes viewing cross-linguistic influence as a continuum with two
      extremes: interactional strategies and transfer lapses. The article considers
      participants' interactional strategies, intentional switches into languages
      other than the target language, and transfer lapses, non-intentional switches
      which are regarded as automatic and result in the activation of other languages
      in parallel to the target language, during L3 oral production. Findings
      suggest that both L1 and L2 have a role: L1 is the default supplier during
      transfer lapses and L2 during interactional strategies. Cenoz explains these
      results in terms of the typology or linguistic distance of the three languages

      Chapter 9: A strategy model of multilingual learning (Johannes Muller-Lance)
      proposes a new model of language production and comprehension. The model
      considers that within the multilingual lexicon the languages may not be
      separated into different compartments of the brain. The author suggests that
      degree of proficiency, time and order of foreign language learning are less
      important than motivation and interaction with the target language.
      Furthermore, proficiency and degree of activation are more important than
      typological similarity with target language. Muller-Lance presents a
      multilingual connective model, labeled the ''strategy model,'' which
      incorporates the mental lexicon, language comprehension, and language
      production. The author then considers three types of multilingual mental
      lexicon organization, that of the multilinguoid, the bilinguoid, and the
      monolinguiod individuals. Multilinguoids have strong cross-linguistic
      connections between the mental representations of their languages; in
      bilinguiods this connection is limited to two languages while monolinguiods
      perform like monolinguals when inferencing and associating.

      Chapter 10: Formulaic utterances in the multilingual context (Carol Spottl and
      Michael McCarthy) investigates formulaic utterances containing more than one
      word, like idiomatic combinations or metaphors. The authors show that the
      paradigm for single-word studies are not applicable for multi-word items and
      that word knowledge of individual items in an utterance is not influential in
      search success. Processing of formulaic utterances appears to be difficult for
      learners, requiring learning and storage of phrases or undertaking a
      grammatically-biased search for a noun or verb in or near the phrase. Thus,
      learners must acquire phrasal sequences in order to comprehend formulaic
      utterances. The authors suggest that at least four lexicons function
      independently in regard to formulaic sequences.

      Chapter 11: Lexicon in the brain: What neurobiology has to say about languages
      (Rita Franceschini, Daniela Zappatore and Cordula Nitsch) presents state of the
      art brain-imaging evidence on issues concerning languages and the brain,
      suggesting that the brain has a common location across languages for
      lexical-semantic processing. The issues of interest are: 1) are languages
      represented separately or in shared modules in the brain, and 2) are languages
      represented differently when acquired at different ages, levels of motivation,
      learner profile, and so on. The authors review previous neurobiology studies
      of monolinguals, bi- and multilinguals' language in the brain. The conclusion
      they reach is that the brain is more sensitive toward ages of acquisition and
      fluency in different languages and that automatization is the main functional
      principle, leading to the efficient recruitment of neural responses and
      resulting in lower activation. However, the main problem with neurobiology
      studies, according to the authors, is the interpretation of brain-imaging
      evidence since different linguistic stimuli lead to differing activation

      Chapter 12: Perspectives on the multilingual lexicon: A critical synthesis
      (David Singleton) considers a number of arguments put forth on the degree to
      which the mental lexicons of multilinguals are separated or integrated. The
      author presents an argument that conceptualizing the multilingual lexicon
      organizational arrangements appears to be much larger and more complex than
      previously considered. Singleton then proceeds to consider the models proposed
      by the articles in the book regarding interaction between the lexical
      processing operations relating to different languages. He suggests that
      evidence in favor of an integrated multilingual mental lexicon proposes a
      cross- lexical connectivity and interaction but researchers should not negate
      evidence of differentiation.

      The book's collection of articles investigates different aspects of multilingual
      mental lexicon, expanding current knowledge of the field while suggesting areas
      of further research. Within a European context, different combinations of
      languages were investigated, resulting in studies accessible for both the
      non-specialist and expert. Singleton's article is especially useful in that it
      frames the issues resulting from the articles, arguing that their evidence
      supports an integrated multilingual mental lexicon. Overall, this book
      addresses an important topic, multilingual mental lexicon, which is drawing
      increasing interest from linguists in various sub fields. The book's value for
      psycholinguists, neurolinguists, applied linguists, second language
      researchers, and graduate students investigating the multilingual mental
      lexicon is evident.


      Orna Ferenz, a full time EFL lecturer at Bar Ilan University, recently completed
      her PhD studies. Her doctoral dissertation, Planning Processes and Language
      Choice In Research-based EFL Academic Writing, investigates the
      psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic components of planning and language use
      among advanced English as a Foreign Language (EFL) academic student writers.
      The study is focused on the interface between language use, cognitive
      processes, and social networks during the EFL academic planning process.
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