COLLOCATIONAL RELATIONS IN THE MENTAL LEXICON OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE LEARNERS

Author:
Aneta Stojić, Filozofski fakultet, Rijeka; Nataša Košuta, Filozofski fakultet, Rijeka
Email:
astojic@ffri.hr; nkosuta@ffri.hr
Summary
In this paper we explore the way collocations are used in a foreign language based on an extensive corpus research that includes an analysis of collocational relations in the written output in German as a foreign language. Collocational relations are understood in line with the phraseological approach – as a linguistic phenomenon that consist of a more or less strong relation between words. It is assumed that this phenomenon as such is stored in the mental lexicon, enabling the speaker to recall it in that form. In this paper, mental lexicon is understood as an abstract container of lexical units in which knowledge of words is stored. The underlying hypothesis is that the participants in this research, learners of German as a foreign language, are not suffi ciently aware of the existence of collocational relations in the given language and therefore do not acquire them as a set relation, which would enable them to recall them from the mental lexicon as single units and reproduce them as such. Instead, they rely on their mother tongue in foreign language production. This means that a foreign language speaker combines collocational elements in language production by using the collocational structures of the mother tongue. Th is leads to negative transfer, that is, to using inappropriate collocational relations in the foreign language. To test the hypotheses, and to shed light on the cognitive processes that are activated when collocations are used in a foreign language, we carried out an empirical research on a corpus of 300 papers written by learners of German as a foreign language. The research is based on a method which focuses on establishing the correctness or incorrectness of use of collocations in a foreign language. Th e aim of the paper is to highlight the importance of, and the need for, a directed development of collocational awareness in a foreign language, which is understood as an essential prerequisite for the correct use of collocations.
Key words
collocational relations; mental lexicon; foreign language output; contrastive approach; L1 Croatian; L2 German
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