Volume 4, Issue 4
  • ISSN 1879-9264
  • E-ISSN: 1879-9272
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We used free association tasks to investigate second language (L2) verb-argument constructions (VACs) and the ways in which their access is sensitive to statistical patterns of usage (verb type-token frequency distribution, VAC-verb contingency, verb-VAC semantic prototypicality). 131 German, 131 Spanish, and 131 Czech advanced L2 learners of English generated the first word that came to mind to fill the V slot in 40 sparse VAC frames such as ‘he __ across the …’, ‘it __ of the …’, etc. For each VAC, we compared these results with corpus analyses of verb selection preferences in 100 million words of usage and with the semantic network structure of the verbs in these VACs. For all language groups, multiple regression analyses predicting the frequencies of verb types generated for each VAC show independent contributions of (i) verb frequency in the VAC, (ii) VAC-verb contingency, and (iii) verb prototypicality in terms of centrality within the VAC semantic network. L2 VAC processing involves rich associations, tuned by verb type and token frequencies and their contingencies of usage, which interface syntax, lexis, and semantics.


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