'sequence' and 'order' in the development of L2 lexis: Some evidence from lexical confusions

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The study compared native speaking learners of English with foreign learners, with regard to confusions of 'synforms' (similar lexical forms). Tests were designed in which the learners were required to distinguish between synforms often categories (ten types ofsynformic similarity).Hierarchies of difficulty (i.e. the extent to which synforms induced errors) were produced for the ten categories of synforms for the two groups of learners. The orders of difficulty for the two groups (native and foreign) correlated at 0.83 at the 0.01 probability level. A hierarchy of difficulty was also produced for four 'super-categories'. The analysis showed that native speaking learners andforeign learners shared an order of difficulty: suffix synforms created the most difficult synformic distinctions, followed by the vocalic, and then the prefix and consonantal.Adopting the distinction between 'sequence' and 'order' in language acquisition it can be argued that, in learning to distinguish between synforms, all learners, native and foreign, follow a similar sequence, an overall developmental route, although the order within each super-category may differ foreach group of learners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-296
Number of pages16
JournalApplied Linguistics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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