Semantic mapping of the bilingual lexicon : form-to-meaning mapping through computerized testing

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al-Mansoor, Mansoor
Ely, Christopher M.
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Thesis (Ph. D.)
Department of English
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In this study, form-to-meaning mapping of the bilingual mental lexicon is investigated. Sixty native speakers of Arabic, divided into intermediate and advanced ESL groups, served as the participants of the study. They performed a semantic relatedness rating task of sixty high frequency semantically related English word pairs on a 6point scale. While thirty word pairs had the same translation (ST) word in Arabic, the other thirty had a different translation (DT) word. Fifteen of the word pairs in each of the two word pair categories were abstract, while the other fifteen were concrete nouns. The vast majority of these word pairs were synonyms. The results showed that there was a significant difference in the word pair ratings between the intermediate and advanced ESL groups. The intermediate group rated all word pairs higher than the advanced learners. Both groups, however, rated the ST word pairs higher than the DT word pairs. Nonetheless, the rating mean difference score between the ST and DT was significantly lower in the advanced group than it was in the intermediate group. In addition, both ESL groups rated the abstract word pairs higher than their concrete counterparts. Overall, the results support the claim that beginning ESL learners map their bilingual lexicon to Ll translation, and as they become advanced move toward mapping form-to-meaning directly. This is particularly evident in the higher rating of ST and the lower rating of DT as well as in the higher rating mean difference score between ST and DT in the intermediate group.