Accurate Learning of Word Usage: Differentiating Semantically Similar Words


  • Takanori Adachi

    1. University of Oregon
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      Takanori Adachi (PhD, University of Oregon) is Instructor of Japanese at the University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon.


Abstract: Learning the accurate usage of L2 words is often very difficult, especially when the L2 is genealogically distant from the learner's L1. Learners of Japanese, for example, may find it difficult to comprehend that the Japanese verb meaning “to close” (tojiru) in the phrase “close your eyes” cannot he used in “close the door,” in which “shimeru” is the correct verb. Although learners eventually may grasp this requirement, it would be more helpful if they could learn this and similar distinctions when they are first encountered. This study sought to determine optimal conditions for learning accurate word usage from limited exposure to exemplars. The results indicated that having varied type exemplars that show clear distinctions among semantically similar words promotes accuracy of usage, as measured by learners' ability to extend a word's core meaning to more abstract or metaphorical meanings.