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A study of the acquisition of connotative meaning by Japanese speakers of English Marshall, Richard Joseph


The purpose of this study was to discover how well adult Japanese speakers of English had acquired the connotative meanings of 39 selected English animal, bird and colour terms. Seventy subjects from Iwate Prefecture in northern Japan were given three elicitation instruments to complete. On one instrument each subject stated what they believed the connotative meanings of the terms are. On the other two instruments the subjects selected from the choices given the choice which best conveyed the connotative meanings of the terms. Among the more noteworthy findings are: 1. The subjects had acquired very few connotative meanings of the 39 terms. 2. The number of connotative meanings the subjects had acquired varied with semantic field. 3. Older subjects and those who had studied English longer or had resided in an English speaking country had acquired more connotative meanings. 4. Male and female subjects had acquired the same number of connotative meanings. 5. There were inconclusive indications that the subjects transferred connotative meanings from Japanese to English and that context helped the subjects to select the connotative meanings of the selected terms. The major implication of the findings is that unless Japanese speakers of English are explicitly taught connotative meanings there is little likelihood they will acquire many connotative meanings. Therefore it was concluded that efforts must be made to teach Japanese speakers of English connotative meanings.

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