Cross-linguistic Influence of Conceptual Fluency in the L2: A Case Study for English and Hungarian
Keywords:metaphor, idiom, recognition, conceptual transfer
AbstractThe goal of this paper is to investigate whether native language (L1) metaphorical fluency and competence (Danesi 1992; 2016) have a detectable influence on the processing of idiomatic expressions in a foreign language (L2). The initial hypothesis is that conceptual transfer is manifest at all levels of L2 figurative language processing, but its degree may vary in function of learners’ language proficiency, task and input type (Hall 2002; Dijkstra 2007). Based on earlier research in psycholinguistics and applied cognitive linguistics, preliminary research was conducted to reveal the extent to which L1 (Hungarian) metaphorical fluency influences the judgement of L2 (English) idioms at both the semantic and the conceptual level. The participants of the research were second-year teacher trainees studying at the University of Szeged (n=38). They were given a questionnaire in which they had to choose the L2 idiom that fits best each example sentence. Out of the four options they were provided, one was the correct L2 idiom and another one was the mirror translation of the corresponding L1 idiom. The example sentences were constructed in a way that they evoked the cultural setting of the target language. Following Grosjean’s idea of “language modes” (2008) it was assumed that such contextualization can potentially trigger the stronger activation of the L2, thereby minimizing the effect of the L1. Results suggest that conceptual transfer is detectable already at the level of recognition, along with other related factors, such as cross-linguistic lexical interference.
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