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THINKING CULTURALLY, OR SEMANTIC STRUCTURE IN THE BILINGUAL LEXICON: PROCESSES IN USE

Abstract

Following Minimalism, semantic material of a lexical entry is most likely non-existent (Chomsky 1992, 1993, 1995). Based on data drawn from bilinguals in experimental tasks, we assume that lexicons operate independently of each other (Kroll and Stewart 1990). Each linguistic system is fed by a conceptual channel, the visual, the auditory, etc. (Paivio and Desrochers 1984, Jackendoff 1985). A word-association experiment was designed to discover if concrete objects elicit similar ( congruent) word-associations in each language than abstract concepts do: data collected from bilingual subjects presented with drawings of simple objects show most of the stimuli produced varying, or incongruent associations, while one produced congruent wordassociations. Congruence is interpreted as indicating the lexical architecture of the compound bilingual; however, the data are interpreted to be indicative of sets of default values stored and reproduced in semantic memory (Van Dijk 1987, 1993). Values are accessed via routinized mental space-building instructions (Fauconnier 1990, 1994). Because semantics is difficult to explain by means of logical form or necessary and sufficient truth-conditions, we should consider a theory of meaning which is not only computational but which employs a 'configurational' account (Brugman 1988) of the way people tmderstand, store and produce meaning.

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Thibeau, T., (1995) “THINKING CULTURALLY, OR SEMANTIC STRUCTURE IN THE BILINGUAL LEXICON: PROCESSES IN USE”, Journal of Second Language Acquisition and Teaching 3, p.49-57.

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Tully Thibeau (University of Arizona)

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