Comparing the Generation of Words from Different Semantic Categories in Native and Foreign Languages
Objective. The aim of this study was to evaluate the degree of conformity of generation frequency scores for semantic categories between native (L1) and foreign languages (L2).
Design. Sixty-eight native Russian-speaking students were asked to list words belonging to different semantic categories in the Russian and English languages. Their generation frequency was calculated for each word in both languages. Hellinger Affinity scores were used to measure the conformity of the generation frequency norms between the Russian and English language.
Results. For culture-dependent categories, the level of conformity between the category frequencies in the Russian and English languages was greater than the conformity with North American norms. For culture-independent categories there were no significant differences in the level of conformity between the native and foreign languages as compared with North American frequencies. Furthermore, the number of concepts with significantly different levels of frequency between the Russian and English language was greater for culture-dependent categories than for culture independent-categories.
Conclusion. The low level of similarity for some categories can be explained by the subjects’ different levels of experience using native and foreign languages in the context of these categories. A low level of category frequency accordance can be also explained by the fact that when subjects switch to a foreign language, they tend to name the concepts which are representative of the culture of this language. The strong level of similarity for other categories suggests that the vocabulary of these categories is less affected by cross-cultural and cross-linguistic diversity.
Authors: Marchenko, O.P.
Keywords: category norms, exemplar generation frequency, cross-language difference, Russian language, English language, L1, L2, Hellinger Affinity coefficient.