Interligalexes & effects

Addressees: Reaserchers, teachers, advanced learners

The term ligalex (Rey-Debove 2004: ix) denotes meaningful units of words that trigger associations with other words. Via the ligalex fruct-, the French verb fructifier connects to fructification, fructueux (infructueux), usufructuaire; via –fier to amplifier, certifier, clarifier... Differently to ligalexes, interligalexes are sensitive to plurilingualism. Thus, fruct– creates a relationship to sp. fructificar, fructificación, fructífero, usufructuario, frutal, frutero, frutería, usufructo and to pt. fructificação…, it. fruttificazione…, en. fructification…; fr. –fier to it./pt./es. -ficar(e), ge. –fizieren, dan. –ficere, swed. –fiera, en. -fy. Furthermore, the suffixes derived from the Latin verb FACERE create a strong association network as well: -TIO: amplicação, certificazione, en./fr. intensification, ru. модифика́ция, ge. Modifikation… If a learner is familiar with interphonological word formation and orthographic rules (in French, the letter combination -ct- corresponds to -it-), knowing the rule opens up fruit, fruité, fruiterie, fruiticulteur, fruitier (fruit merchant, fruit producer, fruit-tree)Beyond French, the CT-nexus rule appears for example in: (fr. nuit, huit), it. notte, otto, pt. neite, oito, sp. noche, ocho. The rule is -CT- ~ fr. -it- ~ it. –tt– ~ pt. –it- ~ sp. –ch-. Word stem related interligalexes form an open class, new lexemes can be created and their number is uncountable. Pre-, in- or suffixes, in contrast, compose a closed group (fr. –tion, -ment, -age, pré-, dé-, dt. un-, ver-, -ierung, -tion,  etc.), which is not productive. Due to their high frequency and interlingual transparency, learners are familiar with them right from the start. Of course, the interlingual resemblance of words can be more or less obvious which needs instruction.

Interlingual networks
From the point of view of learning economy, it is worth while highlighting that the transfer of interlexical identification, starting from (meaningful) forms, causes‑ bi- or even pluridirectional effects. A target form can therefore alternate with a starting form, and vice versa (fact- fr. ↔ fait fatto, abstractabstract…). The graph models the potential transfer relationships between the Latin, English, and the four CVRP target languages: each targeted word is linked to each bridge word, and vice versa, each transfer base can change its role by becoming a transfer target. – The network modeling obscures the intensity of connectivity between related languages, quantifiable by the number of convergences of form.

Interligalexical filtering allows to develop synergies in the field of foreign vocabulary learning. Regarding the CVRP inventory (frequency-range of <5,000), the following figure shows the quantification of possible learning economic effects. If you go beyond the frequency range, synergy effects continue to increase rapidly.

Effect on language learning economy by interligalexes

The construction of interligalexes

As learning tools, interligalexes must be – for achieving maximum efficiency – of flexible size. Their shaping should be based on the supposed learner’s competence. Therefore, a distinction has to be made between reductive and expansive forms. Expansive creations include more letters than reductive ones. Expansive forms establish more easily an associative and learning-facilitating relationship between an interligalex and its lexemes. An example provides the expansive form (h)abit- > habitar, abitare…, hábito, abito, en. habit (custom, robe), habitual.., etc.. The reductive form hab- comprises all the congeners of habit– plus haber, habil…, habilité... et cetera. Obviously, the expansion facilitates learners to build up corresponding interlingual associations, but at the price of a less extensive field of associated forms.

Semantic reach

As an example, the table models the associative power of the interligalex fact-. Its semantic reach is measured on the one hand by the number of compositions with this element, on the other hand by the relative coherence of its semantic components.

Caption: The entries and their serialization were picked up in the ONLINE LEO dictionary and in WordReference. The digits denote the frequency ranks according to routledge dictionaries and the list of Devoto et al. The lemmas are arranged according to French. The interligalexe fact– should not be confused with ‑fact- (défaite, sfarsi, rifare, et cetera).

Coherence of semantic kernels

After the identification of the lemmas with the interligalexe fact-, we move on to the grouping and counting of semantic coherence.

For the interligalexe fact-, we can identify, as we have listed, under b)=’make, cause’ 6 lemmas. The kernel a)=’calculate’ concerns a subordinate (hyponymic) meaning with respect to b). An etymological analysis shows older meanings, which have fallen into disuse. Compared to the geminated a)/b) nuclei, factious (rebellious) < c)=FACTIOSUS is clearly distant. Littré observes: “Which excites trouble in the state. A factious sect.” FACTOR (=3 and d) ‘creator, maker’ is associated with countless references and reference areas. This explains numerous relationships, from fr. postman to factor in mathematics and the meaning ‘potential changer’ (a crucial factor).

Frequency rank

A word’s frequency is an important criterium in classifying its pedagogical purpose in foreign language curricula. The factor applies to interligalexes as well. An examination of the table surprises, because of the 18 semantic kernels, there are only 5 occurrences (1, 3) at a frequency rank below 5000 valid for all lemmas of the series concerned. A special role falls to the hyperonyms 1 and 4, from which the construction of the other hyponym seems easily possible. In other words, these key kernels provide transfer bases for all other semantic nuclei except c) and f). This explains the pedagogical importance of frequency analysis.

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    [Littré] Beaujean, A. (1990): Dictionnaire de la langue française, abregé du DICTIONNAIRE DE LITTRÉ par A. BEAUJEANParis: Librairie Générale Française.
    F.-J. Meißner (2019): The interligalexes of the Core Vocabulary of Romance Plurilingualism (CVRP) and their potential effects on plurilingual learning economy. In: Rivista di Linguistica Applicata/Journal of Applied Linguistics 19(2), pp. 31-46.
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