Language Evolution: The Windows Approach addresses the question: "How can we unravel the evolution of language, given that there is no direct evidence about it?"
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Date: Mon, 3 May 2004 14:22:14 +0200 From: Orna Ferenz Subject: The Multilingual Lexicon
Cenoz, Jasone, Britta Hufeisen and Ulrike Jessner, ed. (2003) The Multilingual Lexicon, Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Orna Ferenz, Bar Ilan University, Israel
OVERVIEW 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 completion.
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 communication.
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 effect.
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 investigated.
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.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER 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.