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English versus Slavic

Lexicon in a Morphological and Semantic Perspective


Edited By Ewa Konieczna and Robert Kiełtyka

This book offers a collection of papers pertaining to the most thought-provoking problems in the areas of theoretical and contrastive linguistics. The contributions are devoted to current developments in morphological and semantic theorizing. The contrastive analyses conducted by the authors examine the structure of English and selected Slavic languages.

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Introduction (Robert Kiełtyka / Ewa Konieczna)


Robert Kiełtyka, Ewa Konieczna


1. Contrastive studies in retrospect

Contrastive studies have undergone several shifts of emphasis since their beginnings in the 1940s when they were started at the University of Michigan by Charles Fries, who saw a need to for contrastive analysis in connection with second language acquisition: “[...] the most effective materials [in foreign language teaching] are those that are based upon a scientific description of the language to be learned, carefully compared with a parallel description of the native language of the learner” (Fries 1945: 9). A decade later Fries’ colleague Robert Lado (1957) put the project into practice by formulating the so-called “Contrastive Hypothesis” in the light of which foreign language teaching can be improved by means of comparing the learner’s native language with the language to be mastered. One of its best-known assumptions concerns the nature of the student’s learning task, which is seen as the sum of the differences between the two languages, based on the belief that similarities between the two languages cause no difficulties (positive transfer), while differences do, due to negative transfer, also known as interference. However, the contrastive hypothesis soon turned out to be oversimplified as it did not take into account many factors, such as the nature of second language acquisition (natural vs. mediated, second vs. third language, etc.), or psychological variables. Consequently, the enterprise aimed at improving foreign language teaching through pairwise language comparison was soon abandoned.

Pairwise language...

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