Author: Shi, Jinfang
Title: Second language processing of metaphoric collocations
Advisors: Peng, Gang (CBS)
Li, Dechao (CBS)
Degree: DALS
Year: 2020
Subject: Collocation (Linguistics)
Second language acquisition
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Faculty of Humanities
Pages: xi, 173 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: Metaphoric collocations are pervasive phenomena in everyday language, but many of them are perceived as literal by native speakers because the metaphoric thought is so deeply rooted in their conceptual system. Second language (L2) learners' acquisition of these conventional metaphoric expressions has been found to be very difficult in pedagogical studies of bilingual figurative acquisition. But the underlying reason why these figurative phrases pose a challenge to L2 learners is still unknown. The present study tried to uncover the mental process and cognitive mechanism involved in the acquisition of L2 metaphoric collocations. Three psycholinguistic experiments were conducted to explore what happens when native and nonnative speakers process metaphoric collocations implicitly and explicitly. The first, self-paced reading, experiment showed that there was significant difference between L1 and L2 processing of metaphoric collocations. Significant metaphor effect (greater cognitive effort used for metaphoric collocations than literal ones) emerged only in the L2 group, but the metaphor effect decreased as L2 proficiency increased. Experiment 2 further explored the influence of L1 knowledge with a lexical decision task. The results indicated that L2 processing of metaphoric collocations was essentially L1-mediated (significant congruency effect emerged in the low-proficiency group), but L2 speakers tried to inhibit L1 influence (significant metaphor effect for congruent collocations in the high-proficiency group) and the more proficient began to establish a form representation of metaphoric collocations (incongruency advantage occurred in the high-proficiency group). The third experiment made use of an explicit measure of processing, a phrase-acceptability judgment task, to ensure participants' access to the meaning of metaphoric collocations. The results revealed that when the assistance of an L1 counterpart was available, the facilitation effect of collocation frequency disappeared (no frequency effect for congruent metaphoric collocations), suggesting that L1 influence was so strong that it even offset the effect of collocation frequency. Additionally, L2 proficiency did not modulate the metaphor effect or congruency effect when the influence of collocation frequency was considered. Based on these results, this study proposes that the development of L2 representation of metaphoric collocations goes through four stages: L1 mediation, L1 inhibition, L2 form representation, and finally L2 form-semantic representation. This study explores the reasons why difficulties arise in the L2 acquisition of metaphoric collocations by looking into how they are processed, registered, and stored in the L2 mental lexicon. The findings reveal that L2 speakers have a different processing mechanism from that of native speakers, but it might be possible for L2 speakers to approach the native-like concept system with extensive exposure. However, the influence of L1 knowledge representation is so powerful that very few L2 learners can reach the final stage, especially among adults who learn L2 in an EFL setting.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: restricted access

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