Edited By Michal B. Paradowski
The Primacy of Lexis. In Search of an Alternative to the Analytic / Holistic Dichotomy
Abstract: The predominant view of language use (both production and comprehension of language) presupposes the existence of two, largely exclusive, mechanisms / strategies underlying the processing of messages: the analytic (rule-based) mode and the holistic (formula-based) mode. In this paper I intend to show that the dichotomy does not adequately handle L2 behaviour. Based on the analysis of examination essays produced by Polish B1+/B2 users of English and two sample B1 French texts I argue for the necessity of recognizing the third, middle-of-the-road option that I refer to as the contentive mode which relies on individual, meaning-bearing lexical items for the construction and interpretation of messages. For some L2 users, especially at the early and intermediate stages of language learning it is content words that drive an utterance forward, instead of – or in addition to – rules and formulae. The primacy of lexis then becomes a major factor to be reckoned with in any descriptively adequate account of L1 acquisition and L2 learning. Accordingly, I propose a modified taxonomy of formulaic expressions which takes into account the needs of the L2 learner. This may have far-reaching consequences for the methodology of L2 teaching.
What is the purpose of foreign language teaching?
Should this not be an absurd question to ask? Isn’t the purpose of foreign language teaching to teach foreign languages? That would imply, however, that a foreign language is teachable (in its entirety) and that it is learnable, in all of its complexity. It...
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