2015 Volume 26 Pages 13-22
The purpose of this study is to investigate the characteristics of nonnative semantic representation. Homograph norms of word association were compared between native speakers of English and Japanese EFL learners. All participants were told to write down any word in the order that came to mind when they read each homograph. The study consisted of two parts: Analysis 1 compared the first three associations produced by Japanese EFL learners, classified into responses written either in their first language (L1) or second language (L2). A large proportion of first associations was written in Japanese, but in the second and third associations, the responses written in English increased in number. Analysis 2 compared the first associations of native speakers and Japanese EFL learners, categorized as dominant and subordinate meanings of homographs. Some dominant meanings for native speakers were considered subordinate meanings by Japanese EFL learners (e.g., for “passage”, many Japanese EFL learners first wrote “book” instead of “way”). The results showed that: 1) most L2 stimulus words were first associated with L1; and 2) the dominant and subordinate meanings were, in some cases, different for L1 and L2 semantic representations.