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An Empirical Study of the Effects of Frame Knowledge on the Acquisition of Culturally-loaded Words

Author: WuDongMin
Tutor: XiaoKunXue
School: Guangzhou University
Course: English Language and Literature
Keywords: frame knowledge acquisition of English culturally-loaded words information processing theory
CLC: H319
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2011
Downloads: 32
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Abstract


Language is the carrier of culture. Words are loaded with cultural information and act as the main tool in reflecting the social and cultural life of human life. Expect for the core English vocabularies, most English words contain with rich cultural information, namely culturally-loaded words. These words often become barriers in Chinese students’ acquisition of English. Teaching syllabus for English majors has clearly pointed out that one of the ultimate goal for English teaching is to foster their abilities in intercultural communication. But literature review shows that the instruction of culture-loaded words has not been received enough attention in different stages of teaching in China. There are many problems which cannot be ignored in students’acquisition of culture-loaded words. Regarding this problem, scholars have carried out researches in terms of the reasons behind the current status, the relationship between the teaching of culture-loaded words with the intercultural communication competence etc. However, contrastive studies predominate in this field and the reasons of the differences are normally explained in the perspective of the cultural factors, which rarely fully explain the deep formation mechanism of culturally-loaded words.This thesis attempts to explain the cognitive mechanism of culture-loaded words from the perspective of cognitive linguistics based on the concepts of frame, frame element and frame borrowing. The English culturally-loaded words can be categorized into four kinds: 1) No Corresponding frames activated by the equivalents; 2) The same frame containing different number of elements; 3) The corresponding frame containing same and different elements; 4) Different frames activated by literally similar cultually-loaded words. The lack of corresponding frame knowledge or the conflict in frame results in the difficulties in the process of student’s acquisition of these culturally-loaded words.The author of this thesis put forward the necessity to input the frame knowledge in the acquisition process of culturally-loaded words and the following research questions:(1) Does the frame knowledge facilitate the acquisition of English culturally-loaded words? (2) What effects does frame knowledge have on the acquisition of culturally-loaded words? An experiment was administered among junior students of business English in Guangzhou University. 60 undergraduates participated in this experiment, who were further attributed to control group and experiment group. 20 culturally-loaded words were taught, experiment group students received the input of frame knowledge while the experiment group not. After the test, students from EG were informed to fill out questionnaires about their opinions on the input of frame knowledge. Independent T-test was carried out to the data and the result shows that (1) The input of the knowledge of frame has positive effects on the acquisition of culturally-loadwords. (2) The input of the knowledge of frame facilitates the interpretation and use of culturally-loaded words in context. (3) The input of the knowledge of frame enhances student’s confidence in the acquisition of culturally-loaded words and are welcomed by students.Based upon the cognitive research on mechanism of culturally-loaded words and the results obtained form the experiment, the research puts forward some concrete suggestions for the English language instructors, English textbook compilers and College English Evaluating System. As a new approach to linguistic study, cognitive linguistics wins universal acknowledge in its advantage in explaining language phenomenon. This study on the acquisition of culturally-loaded words is expected to promote the development of cognitive linguists and the enhancement of the teaching effects of culturally-loaed words. And it is for these that the present research claims for significance and originality.

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CLC: > Language, writing > FOREIGN > English > Language teaching
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