From some psycholinguistic perspectives, this study examines language transfer by exploring the nature of the multilingual mental lexicon in relation to sources of language transfer. It assumes that the multilingual mental lexicon contains not only lexemes but also language-specific lemmas; language-specific lemmas may activate language-specific morphosyntactic procedures in speech production, and third language learners' activation of lemmas for target language items may be influenced by the lemmas already stored in their mental lexicon through their previous language acquisition, especially second language acquisition. The interlanguage data for the study are from adult learners with Chinese as their first language, English as their second language and German as their third language, and those with Japanese as their first language, English as their second language and Chinese as their third language. The research findings provide empirical evidence that the activation of second language lemmas is the major source of interlanguage transfer in target language lexical–conceptual structure, predicate–argument structure and morphological realisation patterns.
- Mental lexicon