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The tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon as a window on (bilingual) lexical retrieval.

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... Moreover, (un)intentionality in behaviour, including the use lexical transfer, is inherently difficult to tap into because the author cannot experience another subject's experience of intentionality and must, therefore, rely on intro-or retrospective reports (whether verbal or in the form of other overt behavior such as pressing a button) from the subject in order to distinguish between what occurred unintentionally and what occurred intentionally ( § 5.2.1). A few studies indicate that language learners can report on various kinds of word retrieval products that occurred unintentionally but that were recognised in retrospect (Ecke, 1999(Ecke, , 2009. Similarly in the present study, the possibility of learners identifying unintentional transfer as intentional in retrospect remains a limitation that potentially skews the proportions of unintentional and intentional transfer. ...
... This relatively low rate of unintentional transfer might in part be due to the instructions given during the data collection. As noted earlier ( § 5.5), a few studies show that L2 learners can report on various kinds of word retrieval products that occurred unintentionally but were recognised in retrospect (Ecke, 1999(Ecke, , 2009. Similarly in the present study, the possibility of participants identifying unintentional transfer as intentional in retrospect remains a limitation. ...
... Several studies claim that eliciting TOT phenomena is a way of exploring the retrieval process. Gollan and Brown (2006), for example, argue that TOTs should not be perceived as a retrieval failure but as a partially Ecke (2009) supports the relevance of the translation equivalent method to elicit TOT phenomena, that is, to ask participants to translate the stimulus word into their other language. When in the TOT state, individuals produce words or chunks of words while trying to recall the target word. ...
... When in the TOT state, individuals produce words or chunks of words while trying to recall the target word. TOTs with related words or word associates take longer to resolve than TOTs without associates, which raises the question as to whether they play any role in the resolution and whether they give any information about lexical organization (Burke et al., 1991;Ecke, 2009). So far findings have shown that associates not only share the syntactic class with the target word in both L1 and L2, but they are also semantically related to the target (bilingual word association tests provide us with similar results; see Navracsics, 2007). ...
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In this chapter we report on a study on the loss and retention of Russian as a foreign language in Hungary, with a special focus on the attitudes towards language learning, Russian people, teacher(s) of Russian, and the Russian language of learners of Russian in school. Our participants are 39 Hungarian learners who started learning Russian as a compulsory subject in Hungary between 1958 and 1988, and who had very little contact with Russian in the period of non-use (the incubation period) thereafter. Starting from the assumption that positive attitudes towards Russians and learning Russian would lead to higher retention scores than negative attitudes, the results indeed indicate that attitudes can have an effect on vocabulary reten- tion (including tip-of-the-tongue states), which is a novel finding in the field of language attrition. The study is also unique in the sense that the language under investigation is not a ‘neutral’ foreign language, such as French or German in Western European education, but a language loaded with political and societal ‘weight’. From a Western perspective, the Russian influence was perceived as an occupation, and learning Russian was somehow equated with the learning of the language of a political enemy. Interestingly, our data show that this was not necessarily the perspective of Hungarian learners in the 20th century. Quite a few of our participants reported that they used to appreciate Russian because of the beauty of the language and the rich culture that it represented. Our findings thus show that stereotypical views of the learning of languages with negative political connotations (e.g. ‘everybody hated the Russians and no one learned Russian for pleasure’) may be wrong and need to be re-evaluated. Another lesson is that social-psychological fac- tors can have an effect over a much longer period of time than the two to four years typically reported in attrition studies. The chapter is organized as follows. First, some methodological aspects of language attrition research will be discussed, before the analysis of three types of data will be presented, viz. quantitative attrition data, qualitative data from interviews, and data including tip-of-the-tongue phenomena as part of the attrition data. The reader should bear in mind that the retrospec- tive nature of this study will not allow us to zoom in on the exact degree of attrition due to a lack of information about the initial conditions (for a detailed discussion of this, see Verspoor, 2015), including the language profi- ciency of our participants at the time of the onset of attrition, i.e. the start of the incubation period. Rather, the goals of this research are to study: (1) the amount of lexical retention (as far as possible); (2) the influence of extra- linguistic factors (see definition below); and (3) the strategies employed in lexical retrieval.
... This relatively low rate of unintentional transfer might in part be due to the instructions given during the data collection. Previous studies show that L2 learners can report on various kinds of word retrieval products that occurred unintentionally but were recognised in retrospect (e.g., Ecke, 1999Ecke, , 2009. Similarly in the present study, the possibility of participants potentially identifying unintentional transfer as intentional remains a limitation. ...
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Aims: Within the current multilingual paradigm shift, transfer is increasingly conceptualised not only as an unintentional mechanism of “interference”, but also as an intentional mechanism used as a learner strategy. However, very little is known from an empirical perspective about (un)intentionality in transfer. This article builds on an exploratory study which suggested that background language words that fit well within the morphological constraints of the target language are highly activated during target language use and, consequently, likely to transfer unintentionally. The present study tests whether the correlation between morphological similarity and unintentionality in lexical transfer is statistically significant Methodology: A quasi-Poisson regression analysis was employed to test the significance of morphological similarity on the amount of unintentional transfer in the written production of Spanish by 78 highly multilingual school students, when tested together with additional variables (number of languages known, proficiency in the target and source languages, frequency of use, first language/second language status and psychotypology) that have also been proposed to affect lexical activation and transfer. Data and analysis: A picture-story description task was used to elicit written transfer. When a learner reported – introspectively or retrospectively – a word to have been transferred from a background language, this word was coded as an instance of intentional transfer. Reversely, non- target-like words traced back to a background language by the authors that were not commented on by the learner were coded as instances of unintentional transfer. Findings: A strongly significant (p < 0.001), positive correlation was found between the amount of unintentional transfer and morphological similarity. A negative trend (p<0.1) was also found between amount of unintentional transfer and number of languages known by learners. Theoretical implications are discussed. Originality: This is one of few studies shedding light on (un)intentionality in transfer. It is also one of few studies to employ regression analysis to investigate the effect of several variables on transfer. Significance: The study provides empirical evidence to substantiate theoretical accounts of lexical activation. First, the results show that morphological similarity indeed seems to be the primary variable leading to high levels of cross-lexical activation and, second, the results show how highly activated words are more likely to be transferred unintentionally, further supporting these theoretical accounts.
... Recent psycholinguistic studies have shown that bilinguals suffer more often than monolinguals from what is known as the "tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon." The linguist Peter Ecke (2009) explains that the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon is a "very peculiar kind of slowed down and interrupted word retrieval" in which "semantic and syntactic information of the desired word has been specified, but phonological encoding fails or is realized only in part" (p. 185). ...
... La dificultad metodológica que deriva de dicha clasificación reside en que muchas veces no resulta evidente si un hablante alterna de lengua de manera intencional con un objetivo pragmático o semántico, o si dicha alternancia es la consecuencia de la falta de disponibilidad del término en la L1. De hecho, aunque el hablante indique que es incapaz de localizar un término léxico especifico en la L1, no quiere decir que dicho término se haya perdido definitivamente, ya que todos los hablantes experimentan alguna vez dificultades a la hora de dar con la palabra adecuada (véase Ecke, 2009). ...
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The so-called heritage speakers of Basque are a type of bilinguals who have been exposed to their mother tongue for a long time (especially at home), but sometimes lack the necessary linguistic skills and communicative competence when compared to native speakers since they have been raised in a social environment where another language, mainly English, is the dominant language. On the other hand, another type of Basque speakers that have grown in a Basque environment, have been afterwards exposed to immigration, reducing drastically the contact with their mother tongue and facing the challenge of learning another foreign language (L3). This case study offers an overview of the acquisition and the maintenance of Basque by a reduced sample of heritage speakers and L3 speakers surrounded by a different natural setting and will carry out an analysis of the different attrition levels from a lexical availability test and semi-structured written production. This analysis intends to show the particular characteristics of these speakers' language development. The results of this study show that the Basque heritage speakers have more difficulties than the L3 speakers in maintaining their mother tongue in such a different linguistic environment. Basque has a similar behaviour comparing to other languages in diaspora; nevertheless, the results provide evidence of the fact that grammar is less resistant than lexicon when it comes to attrition process.
... Beide Probleme der Wortselektion treten prinzipiell sowohl in der Muttersprache als auch in der Fremdsprache auf (vgl. Ecke, 2009). ...
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In this chapter, we analyze foreign language learners’ errors and tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) states. The two phenomena, which can be both frustrating and funny at times, can reveal interesting insights into how words from second and third languages (L2 / L3) are accessed in speech production. Based on observable patterns of similarity between target word and substitution in lexical errors and between target word and word associations in TOT states, we discuss organizing principles of the learner’s mental lexicon, mechanisms of L2 / L3 word learning, and potential implications for the learning and teaching of new vocabulary.
... In fact, as already pointed out by Leung (2007a:109), Chomsky's (1995 et passim) Minimalist Program places a key role in the lexicon and acknowledges the interaction between the lexical and the syntactic levels. More work needs to be done on the representation and processing of lexical items (Ecke, 2009; González Alonso, 2012), the role of control processes in the multilingual mind along the lines of work done in bilingualism (Linck, Hoshino & Kroll, 2008) and on the psycholinguistic and neurolinguistic changes in the L3 speaker. Furthermore, there is a need to design studies that will tease apart the different L3 initial state models. ...
Article
Interest in third language (L3) acquisition has increased exponentially in recent years, due to its potential to inform long-lasting debates in theoretical linguistics, language acquisition and psycholinguistics. From the very beginning, researchers investigating child and adult L3 acquisition have considered the many diverse cognitive factors that constrain and condition the initial state and development of newly acquired languages, and their models have duly evolved to incorporate insights from the most recent findings in psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics and cognitive psychology. The articles in this Special Issue of Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, in dealing with issues such as age of acquisition, attrition, relearning, cognitive economy or the reliance on different memory systems - to name but a few - provide an accurate portrayal of current inquiry in the field, and are a particularly fine example of how instrumental research in language acquisition and other cognitive domains can be to each other.
... In fact, as already pointed out by Leung (2007a:109), Chomsky's (1995 et passim) Minimalist Program places a key role in the lexicon and acknowledges the interaction between the lexical and the syntactic levels. More work needs to be done on the representation and processing of lexical items (Ecke, 2009;González Alonso, 2012), the role of control processes in the multilingual mind along the lines of work done in bilingualism (Linck, Hoshino & Kroll, 2008) and on the psycholinguistic and neurolinguistic changes in the L3 speaker. Furthermore, there is a need to design studies that will tease apart the different L3 initial state models. ...
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Multilingualism has established itself as an area of systematic research in linguistic studies over the last two decades. The multilingual phenomenon can be approached from different perspectives: educational, formal linguistic, neurolinguistic, psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic, among others. This article presents an overview of cognitive (psychological and formal linguistic) approaches to third language (L3) acquisition where the assumption is that language acquisition is a complex multi-faceted process. After identifying what is meant by L3, the article briefly reviews the major issues addressed from both the psycholinguistic strand and the emerging L3 linguistic strand and concentrates on those aspects that are in need of further research in both.
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Tip of the tongue (ToT) is experienced by BIPA students when speaking Indonesian due to delayed lexical access. This study aims to describe two focuses, namely: (1) the characteristics of the target vocabulary and the ToT vocabulary and (2) the mental processes when the ToT occurs. The theory used in this research is lexical retrieval in morphosemantics. This research method is descriptive qualitative. Data collection was carried out by observation and interview techniques during the learning process of BIPA Muhammadiyah Malang University. The results showed that ToT occurred in nouns (42%), verbs (24%), adjectives (21%), conjunctions (8%), and numeralia (5%). Tip of the tongue is accompanied by a lot of silence as a fallacy effect that appears in the speech. Gestur becomes a description of the meaning features of the target vocabulary. The mental process of ToT occurs in several events, namely (1) the speaker has a picture of the object in his mind, (2) the activation of the semantic set when the active vocabulary has a relation with the meaning of the target vocabulary, (3) activation of the meaning field when the speaker describes it, (4) activation of the phonological set when the similar sound vocabulary appears in the mind, and (5) the appearance of the first language and / or intermediate language.
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Cognitive diary and TOT-elicitation studies investigated whether (English-dominant) fluent bilingual Heritage Spanish (HS) speakers of the southwestern U.S. experienced more and different tip-of-the-tongue states (TOTs) compared to Mexican Spanish (MS) speakers from northern Mexico and whether word retrieval in the dominant and non-dominant languages differed. Compared to the MS speakers, HS speakers reported fewer TOTs in the diary, their TOTs involved target words and associates of higher word frequencies, and they were less likely to recall the grammatical gender of inaccessible Spanish nouns. In the elicitation tasks, HS speakers recalled fewer Spanish target words, reported more words as unknown, and had more TOTs with words of low, medium and high frequency counts than MS speakers. HS speakers reported similar rates of TOTs after translation and definition prompts, and for cognate and non-cognate targets. The discussion addresses aspects of lexical representation, retrieval, and potential attrition in the bilinguals’ non-dominant language.
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This study examined the effects of English as a second language (L2) vocabulary on native Spanish speakers’ word searches in Spanish (first language or L1). It analyzed word-finding problems, known as tip-of-the tongue states, in three groups of Spanish native speakers with different proficiency levels in English L2 and explored whether and to what extent English L2 words interact with and influence the retrieval of Spanish L1 words reported to be on the tip of the tongue.
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My purpose in this paper is to examine the psychological nature of forgetting (parts of) a language by individuals involved in language change across the lifespan. The objectives of the article are (1) to summarize psychological theories and hypotheses about forgetting and memory failure, and (2) to evaluate their relevance for the explanation of individual language attrition. By reviewing linguistically and psycholinguistically oriented language attrition studies that appear to implicate mechanisms of forgetting, I seek to contribute to the interdisciplinary study and discussion of language attrition phenomena.
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The acquisition of foreign language (FL) vocabulary involves two aspects: (1) learning to recognize a word’s meaning, and (2) becoming able to retrieve or produce the word’s form in speech production. The second aspect usually takes more time and practice to be developed. While learners may have no problem understanding a FL word’s meaning, they frequently are unable to recall the word when necessary. The acquisition of foreign language (FL) vocabulary involves two aspects: (1) learning to recognize a word’s meaning, and (2) becoming able to retrieve or produce the word’s form in speech production. The second aspect usually takes more time and practice to be developed. While learners may have no problem understanding a FL word’s meaning, they frequently are unable to recall the word when necessary.