Harnessing form-meaning motivation to foster L2 word recall: A think-aloud experiment

Onderzoeksoutput: Unpublished abstract


The notion of form-meaning motivation (FMM) in cognitive linguistics refers to the idea that a retrospective explanation can be sought for why a lexical unit in a specific language comes in a particular form or with a particular meaning. If known words can basically be defined in psycholinguistic terms as form-meaning-mappings, the present paper explores whether FMM can be harnessed to speed up discrete L2 vocabulary learning. This is deemed particularly necessary in case of input-poor environments, where lexical development cannot solely rely on incidental learning. To operationalize this, we designed a think-aloud protocol where upper-intermediate Dutch-speaking learners of English (N=30) were invited to evaluate the potentially motivated nature of the connection between word form (new) and word meaning (known) of 14 novel words, and to explain each evaluation, if possible. Afterwards, participants were unexpectedly tested on their form and meaning recall of the new words.
Transcripts show that, in order to justify their ratings, learners drew on cross-lexical associations most frequently (50%), referring to soundalike or lookalike words in the target or other known language(s). This tally was closely followed by sound-symbolic associations (38%), where referential values were assigned to the intrinsic sound or spelling of a word. Both type of associations could either corroborate or clash with the new form-meaning-mapping given, informing perceived form-meaning-motivation. Transcripts also reveal that both types of associations frequently paved the way for so-called mapping elaborations, defined as mental deliberations which creatively attend to both the form and meaning of new words. Finally, our post-test results indicate that cross-lexical and sound-symbolic associations were equally successful in fostering form and meaning recall. We suggest that the FMM rating task, by exposing cross-lexical connections and/or generating creative associations, helps to integrate new words faster and more durably in long-term memory.
Originele taal-2English
StatusPublished - 19 mrt 2013
EvenementAnnual Conference of the American Association for Applied Linguistics 2013 - Dallas, United States
Duur: 16 mrt 201319 mrt 2013


ConferenceAnnual Conference of the American Association for Applied Linguistics 2013
Land/RegioUnited States


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