Quantitative and Qualitative Aspects of Advanced Learners’ L1 and L2 Mastery of Polysemous Words
In the present investigation, 15 first-term university students were faced with forty decontextualised polysemous words in English (L2) and Swedish (L1) respectively and asked to indicate which, of a set of six meanings, adhered to the item in question (two to five of the meanings were correct). The polysemous words were of varying frequency. The investigation thus addresses the following research question:
In quantitative and qualitative terms, what knowledge do advanced students have of polysemous words in their L2 as compared to their L1?
Results show that most students have a relatively poor knowledge of polysemous words in both languages, especially in their L2. Furthermore, while the frequencies of the test items have no impact on the students’ achievements, the relative frequencies of the meanings of the test items and the number of meanings of each test item stand in direct relation to whether the item is known or not in both languages.
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