Acquisition of Noun Polysemy in English as a Foreign Language

Meral Öztürk


This study investigates, in an ex-post facto design, the acquisition of noun polysemy in English by EFL learners. Differences among three types of senses (core vs metonymical vs metaphorical) as well as the influence of the senses of the corresponding L1 words in four categories (parallel, L2-only, L1-only, nonce) have been studied. 87 advanced EFL learners majoring in ELT in a Turkish university answered a polysemy test measuring 162 senses for 81 polysemous nouns in English. Each word was tested twice: once in a core sense and once in an extended sense. The extended sense was a metonymical sense in about half of the words and a metaphorical sense for the other half. The results of the study indicated a significant effect for sense type in that core senses were known better than the corresponding extended senses and metonymical senses better than metaphorical senses. L1 effect was different for metonymical and metaphorical senses.

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