LINGUIST List 15.1440

Thu May 6 2004

Review: Psycholing/Acquisition: Cenoz, et al. (2003)

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  1. Orna Ferenz, The Multilingual Lexicon

Message 1: The Multilingual Lexicon

Date: Wed, 5 May 2004 18:16:31 -0400 (EDT)
From: Orna Ferenz <>
Subject: The Multilingual Lexicon

Cenoz, Jasone, Britta Hufeisen and Ulrike Jessner, ed. (2003) The
Multilingual Lexicon, Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Announced at

Orna Ferenz, Bar Ilan University, Israel


Cenoz et al. have brought together a collection of articles addressing
various aspects of the multilingual lexicon, such as multilingual
processing, transfer in multilinguals, and the neurolinguistics of
multilingualism. The general aim of the book is to contribute to the
increasing knowledge of how multilingual individuals acquire and
process language. The volume accomplishes this by providing
theoretical and empirical studies on the multilingual lexicon thereby
advancing the development of multilingualism as a specific area of
research. The book consists of 12 chapters, presenting current
theoretical and empirical studies on the multilingual lexicon. The
contributing articles are arranged in four sections. Section One
consists of chapters 2 and 3 which discuss the issue of multilingual
processing during perception, production, and related tasks. Section
Two consists of chapters 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 which focus on the issue of
transfer in multilinguals by considering the impact of different
mechanisms and directions on the interaction between a multilingual's
languages. Section Three consists of chapters 9 and 10 which consider
various learning issues, including strategies, such as inferencing,
and vocabulary acquisition. Section Four includes chapter 11,
presenting current neurolinguistic research on bi- and multilinguals'
brain activity during language activation, and chapter 12, which
considers the issues raised in the preceding chapters in relation to
current discussions on the multilingual mental lexicon.

Chapter 1: Why investigate the multilingual lexicon (Jasone Cenoz,
Britta Hufeisen, & Ulrike Jessner) serves as an introduction,
introducing the reader to the widespread phenomenon of
multilingualism, reviewing the limited research in the field, and
raising issues of relevance to multilingual lexicon research. The
chapter also provides an overview of each of the articles in the book,
summarizing each article in one or two paragraphs.

Chapter 2: Lexical processing in bilinguals and multilinguals (Ton
Dijkstra) focuses on the factors that may help multilinguals solve
their word selection problem during visual word recognition. The
writer presents the Bilingual Interactive Activation model and extends
it to account for multilinguals focus on word recognition during
reading. Among the factors that are presented are the non-linguistic
(expectation, instruction) and linguistic (syntactic, lexical) effects
of context on relative language activation resulting in one language
possibly being activated and the others being deactivated or
relatively active. The author presents data from a number of studies
to illustrate the issues discussed.

Chapter 3: The transfer-appropriate-processing approach and the
trilingual's organization of the lexicon (Ute Schonpflug) attempts to
clarify the issue of conceptual interconnections between second (L2)
and third (L3) languages. Bilingual and trilingual language
processing is considered at the prelinguistic and conceptual level and
at the semantic-conceptual-lexical level. Research presented on word
fragments completion emphasizes data-driven versus concept-driven
processing and the roles of word parts in identifying correct word
target. Furthermore, results indicate that passive and active
competence in languages (L2 / L3) influences the speed of word

Chapter 4: The nature of cross-linguistic interaction in the
multilingual system (Ulrike Jessner) presents a new perspective on the
characteristic features of transfer phenomenon occurring when three
languages are in contact. The article reviews cross-linguistic
influence (CLI) literature, and considers the theoretical confusion
regarding the nature of transfer phenomenon. Data are presented on
metalinguistic thinking with the use of L1, L2, and L3. Findings
suggest that subjects use their different languages in association
with avoidance, simplification, and over-monitoring strategies.
Jessner proposes that the transfer phenomenon should be considered as
a coherent set of linguistic phenomena consisting of transfer,
inteference, code-switching and borrowing phenomena.

Chapter 5: Activation of lemmas in the multilingual mental lexicon and
transfer in third language learning (Longxing Wei) explains the causes
of learner errors by describing how language-specific lemmas in the
multilingual mental lexicon are activated in language learning and
speech production processes. A review of current psycholinguistic
models of language acquisition is given, followed by models of
language transfer. The author then discusses interlanguage transfer
as a phenomenon of competing language systems in multilingualism. The
article presents a model of multilinguistic lemma activation in L3
production. The nature of learner errors is defined in terms of the
nature of the multilingual mental lexicon. Sources of learner's
errors are described in terms of interlanguage transfer.
Interlanguage transfer refers to the use of a multilingual's other
languages, for example L1 and L2, when there are insufficient
L3-specific entries in the mental lexicon to produce the desired

Chapter 6: Parasitism as a default mechanism in L3 vocabulary
acquisition (Christopher J. Hall and Peter Ecke) presents a model of
vocabulary acquisition based on detection and exploitation of
similarities between novel lexical input and prior lexical knowledge.
The Parasitic model presupposes that new words are integrated into
existing lexical network with least possible redundancy and as rapidly
as possible in order to become accessible for communication. The
authors propose that the multilingual lexicon admits cross-linguistic
transfer (CLI) from all possible source languages and at all
representational levels. Their findings indicate that CLI at the form
level comes from a speaker's L3, at the conceptual level from L2, and
at the frame level from L1; however, L2 appears to have the greatest

Chapter 7: Investigating the role of prior foreign language knowledge
(Martha Gibson and Britta Hufeisen) highlights different stages and
aspect of the foreign and second language production processes. The
article presents a study in which participants undertook a translation
task from an unknown language to a known language. The purpose of the
study was to investigate the role of previous languages in production
processes. Results indicate that subjects used their previous
languages for the task, resulting in transfer and cross-linguistic
interaction. The language skills utilized by the subjects included
using metalinguistic knowledge, knowledge of text cohesion and
coherence, and their relationship to general world knowledge.

Chapter 8: The role of typology in the organization of the
multilingual lexicon (Jasone Cenoz) examines the effect of language
typology on the selection and activation of a language in the
multilingual lexicon during L3 production. Cenoz proposes viewing
cross-linguistic influence as a continuum with two extremes:
interactional strategies and transfer lapses. The article considers
participants' interactional strategies, intentional switches into
languages other than the target language, and transfer lapses,
non-intentional switches which are regarded as automatic and result in
the activation of other languages in parallel to the target language,
during L3 oral production. Findings suggest that both L1 and L2 have
a role: L1 is the default supplier during transfer lapses and L2
during interactional strategies. Cenoz explains these results in
terms of the typology or linguistic distance of the three languages

Chapter 9: A strategy model of multilingual learning (Johannes Muller-
Lance) proposes a new model of language production and comprehension.
The model considers that within the multilingual lexicon the languages
may not be separated into different compartments of the brain. The
author suggests that degree of proficiency, time and order of foreign
language learning are less important than motivation and interaction
with the target language. Furthermore, proficiency and degree of
activation are more important than typological similarity with target
language. Muller-Lance presents a multilingual connective model,
labeled the ''strategy model,'' which incorporates the mental lexicon,
language comprehension, and language production. The author then
considers three types of multilingual mental lexicon organization,
that of the multilinguoid, the bilinguoid, and the monolinguiod
individuals. Multilinguoids have strong cross-linguistic connections
between the mental representations of their languages; in bilinguiods
this connection is limited to two languages while monolinguiods
perform like monolinguals when inferencing and associating.

Chapter 10: Formulaic utterances in the multilingual context (Carol
Spottl and Michael McCarthy) investigates formulaic utterances
containing more than one word, like idiomatic combinations or
metaphors. The authors show that the paradigm for single-word studies
are not applicable for multi-word items and that word knowledge of
individual items in an utterance is not influential in search success.
Processing of formulaic utterances appears to be difficult for
learners, requiring learning and storage of phrases or undertaking a
grammatically-biased search for a noun or verb in or near the phrase.
Thus, learners must acquire phrasal sequences in order to comprehend
formulaic utterances. The authors suggest that at least four lexicons
function independently in regard to formulaic sequences.

Chapter 11: Lexicon in the brain: What neurobiology has to say about
languages (Rita Franceschini, Daniela Zappatore and Cordula Nitsch)
presents state of the art brain-imaging evidence on issues concerning
languages and the brain, suggesting that the brain has a common
location across languages for lexical-semantic processing. The issues
of interest are: 1) are languages represented separately or in shared
modules in the brain, and 2) are languages represented differently
when acquired at different ages, levels of motivation, learner
profile, and so on. The authors review previous neurobiology studies
of monolinguals, bi- and multilinguals' language in the brain. The
conclusion they reach is that the brain is more sensitive toward ages
of acquisition and fluency in different languages and that
automatization is the main functional principle, leading to the
efficient recruitment of neural responses and resulting in lower
activation. However, the main problem with neurobiology studies,
according to the authors, is the interpretation of brain-imaging
evidence since different linguistic stimuli lead to differing
activation images.

Chapter 12: Perspectives on the multilingual lexicon: A critical
synthesis (David Singleton) considers a number of arguments put forth
on the degree to which the mental lexicons of multilinguals are
separated or integrated. The author presents an argument that
conceptualizing the multilingual lexicon organizational arrangements
appears to be much larger and more complex than previously considered.
Singleton then proceeds to consider the models proposed by the
articles in the book regarding interaction between the lexical
processing operations relating to different languages. He suggests
that evidence in favor of an integrated multilingual mental lexicon
proposes a cross- lexical connectivity and interaction but researchers
should not negate evidence of differentiation.

The book's collection of articles investigates different aspects of
multilingual mental lexicon, expanding current knowledge of the field
while suggesting areas of further research. Within a European
context, different combinations of languages were investigated,
resulting in studies accessible for both the non-specialist and
expert. Singleton's article is especially useful in that it frames
the issues resulting from the articles, arguing that their evidence
supports an integrated multilingual mental lexicon. Overall, this
book addresses an important topic, multilingual mental lexicon, which
is drawing increasing interest from linguists in various sub fields.
The book's value for psycholinguists, neurolinguists, applied
linguists, second language researchers, and graduate students
investigating the multilingual mental lexicon is evident.


Orna Ferenz, a full time EFL lecturer at Bar Ilan University, recently
completed her PhD studies. Her doctoral dissertation, Planning
Processes and Language Choice In Research-based EFL Academic Writing,
investigates the psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic components of
planning and language use among advanced English as a Foreign Language
(EFL) academic student writers. The study is focused on the interface
between language use, cognitive processes, and social networks during
the EFL academic planning process.
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