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LEXICAL PROFILES OF COMPREHENSIBLE SECOND LANGUAGE SPEECH

The Role of Appropriateness, Fluency, Variation, Sophistication, Abstractness, and Sense Relations

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 August 2015

Kazuya Saito*
Affiliation:
Birkbeck, University of London
Stuart Webb
Affiliation:
University of Western Ontario
Pavel Trofimovich
Affiliation:
Concordia University
Talia Isaacs
Affiliation:
University of Bristol
*
*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Kazuya Saito, Birkbeck, University of London, The Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication, 30 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DT, UK. E-mail: k.saito@bbk.ac.uk

Abstract

This study examined contributions of lexical factors to native-speaking raters’ assessments of comprehensibility (ease of understanding) of second language (L2) speech. Extemporaneous oral narratives elicited from 40 French speakers of L2 English were transcribed and evaluated for comprehensibility by 10 raters. Subsequently, the samples were analyzed for 12 lexical variables targeting diverse domains of lexical usage (appropriateness, fluency, variation, sophistication, abstractness, and sense relations). For beginner-to-intermediate speakers, comprehensibility was related to basic uses of L2 vocabulary (fluent and accurate use of concrete words). For intermediate-to-advanced speakers, comprehensibility was linked to sophisticated uses of L2 lexis (morphologically accurate use of complex, less familiar, polysemous words). These findings, which highlight complex associations between lexical variables and L2 comprehensibility, suggest that improving comprehensibility requires attention to multiple lexical domains of L2 performance.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

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