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MITA Working Papers in Psycholinguistics, v3 p75-92 1993

Many second-language learners in their early stages of development are known to make an extensive use of prefabricated formulae. These formulae are extracted holistically from the input and memorized by rote. Learners can learn to use expressions that are far beyond their current knowledge of syntax and vocabulary, by guessing their meaning from the contextual cues. The formulae that learners use therefore usually sound more fluent and linguistically advanced than their creative speech (i.e. utterances they generate using syntactic rules). A major dispute over the role of formulaic utterances in the 1970s was whether they led to creative language or they were a dead-end. This paper argues that formulaic utterances remain as units or chunks in the learner's lexicon, even after their syntactic structure becomes apparent to the learner, as long as they serve some purpose in economizing processing energy in sentence production. That is, the lack of syntactic analysis is not a defining character of such formulae. Data from various research is used to support the argument and demonstrate how it can explain some second language acquisition phenomena better than extant theories that have been widely used to explain them. Theoretical implications are then explored. (VWL)

Descriptors: Context Effect, Foreign Countries, Language Processing, Language Research, Linguistic Theory, Oral Language, Second Language Learning, Syntax

Autor: Kanno, Yasuko


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