Volume 30, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0155-0640
  • E-ISSN: 1833-7139


One of the ways to investigate the mental lexicon is to use word association tests. Empirical studies comparing associations by children and adults have indicated a tendency for children to give syntagmatic responses, whereas adults give paradigmatic responses. In order to investigate lexical development in L2 acquisition of Swedish we collected data from two groups of students, one in MalmÖ, Sweden and one in Melbourne. Part of the Melbourne group also took the association test in their L1 six months later. Native speakers were used as a control group. The results demonstrate that learners in general tend to focus more on form than content compared to native speakers. This trend was particularly strong for the L2 group in Melbourne who also exhibited more variation in their responses compared to the L2 group in Sweden and the NS control group.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Clark, Herbert, H.
    1970 ‘Word associations and linguistic theory’. InNew horizons in linguistics, edited by Lyons, John . Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Danielsson, Kristina
    2003Beginners read aloud. High versus low linguistic levels in Swedish beginners’ oral reading. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Ellis, Nick
    1996 ‘Sequencing in SLA. Phonological memory, chunking, and points of order’. Studies in second language acquisition18: 91–126. doi: 10.1017/S0272263100014698
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263100014698 [Google Scholar]
  4. Entwisle, Doris, R.
    1966Word associations of young children. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Ervin, Susan
    1961 ‘Changes with age in the verbal determinants of word association’. The American journal of psychology74: 361–372. doi: 10.2307/1419742
    https://doi.org/10.2307/1419742 [Google Scholar]
  6. Haastrup, Kirsten ; Henriksen, Birgit
    1998 ‘Vocabulary acquisition: from partial to precise understanding’. InPerspectives on lexical acquisition in a second language, edited by Haastrup, Kirsten ; Viberg, Åke . Lund: Lund University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Håkansson, Gisela ; Norrby, C.
    2005 ‘Flicka - dricka eller tjej? Ordassociationer hos andraspråksinlärare’. InSvenskans beskrivning 27. Förhandlingar vid Tjugosjunde sammankomsten för svenskans beskrivning, edited by Byrman, Gunilla ; Einarsson, Jan ; Hammarbäck, Solveig ; Lindgren, Maria ; Stille, Per . Växjö: Växjö University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Høien, Torleiv ; Lundberg, Ingvar
    2000Dyslexia: From theory to intervention. Dordrecht: Kluwer. doi: 10.1007/978‑94‑017‑1329‑0
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-1329-0 [Google Scholar]
  9. Jiang, Wenying
    2000 ‘The relationship between culture and language’. ELT journal54 (4): 328–334. doi: 10.1093/elt/54.4.328.
    https://doi.org/10.1093/elt/54.4.328 [Google Scholar]
  10. Kent, G. H ; Rosanoff, A. J.
    1910 ‘A study of association in insanity’. American journal of insanity67: 37–96.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Meara, Paul
    1978 ‘Learners’ word associations in French’. Interlanguage studies bulletin3: 192–211.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. 1984 ‘The study of lexis in interlanguage’. InInterlanguage, edited by Davies, A. ; Howart A. ; Criper, C. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. 1996 ‘Word associations in a foreign language’. Accessed20 May 2005from Vocabulary Acquisition Research Group Virtual Library Website. Formerly available from: www.swan.ac.uk/cals/calsres/vlibrary/pm83a.htm.
  14. Moran, Louis J.
    1974 ‘Comparative growth of Japanese and North American cognitive dictionaries’. Child development44: 862–865. doi: 10.2307/1127740
    https://doi.org/10.2307/1127740 [Google Scholar]
  15. Namei, Shidrokh
    2002The bilingual lexicon from a developmental perspective: A word association study of Persian-Swedish bilinguals. Stockholm: Centre for Research on Bilingualism, Stockholm University.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Schmitt, Norbert ; Meara, Paul
    1997 ‘Researching vocabulary through a word knowledge framework: Word associations and verbal suffixes’. Studies in second language acquisition19: 17–36. doi: 10.1017/S0272263197001022
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263197001022 [Google Scholar]
  17. Singleton, David
    1999Exploring the second language mental lexicon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9781139524636
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139524636 [Google Scholar]
  18. Söderman, Tove
    1993 ‘Word associations of foreign language learners and native speakers: The phenomenon of a shift in response type and its relevance for lexical development’. InNear-native proficiency in English, edited by Ringbom, Håkan . Åbo: Åbo Akademi English Department Publications.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Viberg, Åke
    2004 ‘Lexikal utveckling i ett andraspråk’. InSvenska som andraspråk i forskning, undervisning och samhälle, edited by Hyltenstam, Kenneth ; Lindberg, Inger . Lund: Studentlitteratur.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Wolter, Brent
    2001 ‘Comparing the L1 and L2 mental lexicon. Studies in second language acquisition23: 41–69. doi: 10.1017/S0272263101001024
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263101001024 [Google Scholar]
  • Article Type: Research Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error