L2 semantics

Authored by: Roumyana Slabakova

The Routledge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition

Print publication date:  November  2011
Online publication date:  June  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415479936
eBook ISBN: 9780203808184
Adobe ISBN: 9781136666896


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Few people start learning a second language because it has exotic sounds, or elegant sentence structure. Meaning is what we are after. We would like to understand and to be able to convey thoughts and feelings and observations in another language the way we do in our native language. Ever since Aristotle, linguists have considered language to be the pairing of form (sounds or signs or written strings) and meaning. In this chapter, I examine the road to meaning, that is, how we come to understand and convey meaning in a second language, and where the pitfalls to that goal may lie. I will begin by distinguishing between several types of meanings: lexical, grammatical, and semantic. Next, I will situate them in the language architecture.

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