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It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

It's Been Said Before "examines why certain phrases become clichés and why they should be avoided -- or why they still have life left in them."

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Sounds Fascinating

By J. C. Wells

How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.

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
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.


This article appears IN Bilingualism: Language and Cognition Vol. 16, Issue 4.

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