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By David Crystal

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Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases

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Academic Paper


Title: Explicit and implicit semantic processing of verb–particle constructions by French–English bilinguals
Author: Mary-Jane Blais
Institution: McGill University
Author: Laura M. Gonnerman
Institution: McGill University
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Psycholinguistics; Semantics
Subject Language: English
French
Abstract: Verb–particle constructions are a notoriously difficult aspect of English to acquire for second-language (L2) learners. The present study investigated whether L2 English speakers are sensitive to gradations in semantic transparency of verb–particle constructions (e.g., finish up vs. chew out). French–English bilingual participants (first language: French, second language: English) completed an off-line similarity ratings survey, as well as an on-line masked priming task. Results of the survey showed that bilinguals’ similarity ratings became more native-like as their English proficiency levels increased. Results from the masked priming task showed that response latencies from high, but not low-proficiency bilinguals were similar to those of monolinguals, with mid- and high-similarity verb–particle/verb pairs (e.g., finish up/finish) producing greater priming than low-similarity pairs (e.g., chew out/chew). Taken together, the results suggest that L2 English speakers develop both explicit and implicit understanding of the semantic properties of verb–particle constructions, which approximates the sensitivity of native speakers as English proficiency increases.

CUP at LINGUIST

This article appears in Bilingualism: Language and Cognition Vol. 16, Issue 4, which you can read on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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