chapter  5
15 Pages

Lexis and Comprehension

This chapter considers the influences on the vocabulary used in English as a lingua franca (ELF). It also discusses the viewpoint of lexical pragmatics, that the dictionary or connotational meanings of words are not always important: the interpretation of words is fine-tuned in discourse, and their meanings are often narrowed or broadened, and there is no reason to suppose that word or utterance meanings are generally literal. Although lexical simplification in bilingual processing is not always the result of imperfect learning, it does appear that imperfect learning, or at least 'less deeply entrenched memory representations', are regularly involved in the approximate use of less common words in ELF. Quite apart from using approximations and coinages, ELF speakers do not necessarily need to use 'ordinary' words in the ways native English speakers (NES) use them to refer to native English concepts. The argument about conceptual restructuring and the learning of new grammatical categories also applies, mutatis mutandis, to lexical categories.