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Academic Paper


Title: Conceptual transfer and lexical development in adjectives of space: Evidence from judgments, reaction times, and eye tracking
Author: Brent Wolter
Author: Junko Yamashita
Author: Chi Leung
Linguistic Field: Applied Linguistics; Psycholinguistics
Subject Language: English
Japanese
Abstract: This study investigated conceptual transfer and lexical development for spatial adjectives using participant judgments, reaction times, and eye-tracking measures. The study focused on the Japanese adjective semai and its partially equivalent English translation narrow. The study presented participants with images depicting two rooms with slight differences in height and width and asked them to identify which room was narrower. The only variation was the language in which the instructions were given: native language (L1) instructions for two L1 control groups, second language (L2) instructions for the experimental group (L1 Japanese speakers of L2 English). The results showed fundamental differences in processing between the control groups in respect to the judgments and reaction times, but not for the eye-tracking measures. Furthermore, the experimental group’s behavior indicated a conceptual understanding of narrow that was in line with developments in proficiency, but also limited to the judgment and reaction time measures. Based on these findings, we conclude that (a) conceptual transfer affects processing on receptive language tasks, and (b) L2 conceptual representations come to resemble those of native speakers as learners develop their lexical knowledge. However, we also suggest that (c) although conceptualizations likely affect cognitive functions, our eye-tracking data were too crude to capture this.

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This article appears IN Applied Psycholinguistics Vol. 41, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site .

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