International Journal of Language & Linguistics

ISSN 2374-8850 (Print), 2374-8869 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/ijll

Abstract Lexical Structure and Language Transfer in Second Language Learning
Xuexin Liu, Longxing Wei

This study adopts the Bilingual Lemma Activation Model (BLAM) to investigate the sources of language transfer and the linguistic nature of interlanguage (IL). The BLAM assumes that the bilingual mental lexicon contains abstract elements called ‘lemmas’ underlying lexemes and that abstract lexical structure contains three levels: lexical-conceptual structure, predicate-argument structure, and morphological realization patterns. This study provides evidence in support of the BLAM’s claim that language-specific lemmas in contact in the bilingual mental lexicon and first language (L1) abstract lexical structure may influence second language (L2) learning and affects IL development. The typical language transfer instances from the IL production of adult native speakers of Japanese learning English as an L2 and adult native speakers of English learning Japanese as an L2. Based on the findings, this study concludes that language transfer should be viewed as lemma transfer during the activation of L1 knowledge at each level of abstract lexical structure.

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