Polysemy and lexical priming

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Hoey’s theory of lexical priming makes three claims with respect to polysemy. According to one of them, two similarly common senses of a polysemous lexical item will avoid each others’ primings (cf. Hoey 2005: 82). The aim of this paper is to examine the extent to which this claim is valid with data on the polysemous noun drive. The study focuses on the two most frequent uses of drive, namely “journey in a car or other vehicle” and “private road leading up to a house” and examines what semantic categories the pre-modifying adjectives and nouns of these two senses tend to belong to when they are preceded by an article. The results of the analysis support Hoey’s claim.


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