Acquisition of Noun Polysemy in English as a Foreign Language
This study investigates, in an ex-post facto design, the acquisition of noun
polysemy in English by EFL learners. Differences among three types of senses (core
vs metonymical vs metaphorical) as well as the influence of the senses of the
corresponding L1 words in four categories (parallel, L2-only, L1-only, nonce) have
been studied. 87 advanced EFL learners majoring in ELT in a Turkish university
answered a polysemy test measuring 162 senses for 81 polysemous nouns in English.
Each word was tested twice: once in a core sense and once in an extended sense. The
extended sense was a metonymical sense in about half of the words and a
metaphorical sense for the other half. The results of the study indicated a significant
effect for sense type in that core senses were known better than the corresponding
extended senses and metonymical senses better than metaphorical senses. L1 effect
was different for metonymical and metaphorical senses.
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