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Speaking American: A History of English in the United States

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Language, Literacy, and Technology

By Richard Kern

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Academic Paper


Title: The Processing of Formulaic Language
Author: Kathy Conklin
Institution: University of Nottingham
Author: Norbert Schmitt
Institution: University of Nottingham
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition
Abstract: It is generally accepted that we store representations of individual words in our mental lexicon. There is growing agreement that the lexicon also contains formulaic language (How are you? kick the bucket). In fact, there are compelling reasons to think that the brain represents formulaic sequences in long-term memory, bypassing the need to compose them online through word selection and grammatical sequencing in capacity-limited working memory. The research surveyed in this chapter strongly supports the position that there is an advantage in the way that native speakers process formulaic language compared to nonformulaic language. This advantage extends to the access and use of different types of formulaic language, including idioms, binomials, collocations, and lexical bundles. However, the evidence is mixed for nonnative speakers. While very proficient nonnatives sometimes exhibit processing advantages similar to natives, less proficient learners often have been shown to process formulaic language in a word-by-word manner similar to nonformulaic language. Furthermore, if the formulaic language is idiomatic (where the meaning cannot be understood from the component words), the figurative meanings can be much more difficult to process for nonnatives than nonidiomatic, nonformulaic language.

CUP AT LINGUIST

This article appears IN Annual Review of Applied Linguistics Vol. 32, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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