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Roche, Jörg and Roussy-Parent, Mélody (2006): Zur Rolle der kontrastiven Semantik in interkultureller Kommunikation. In: Fremdsprachen Lehren und Lernen, Vol. 35: pp. 228-250 [PDF, 2MB]

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The present paper contains results derived from a number o f experiments on word associations done with a total of 102 German-speaking and French Canadian informants. The study included 9 adjectives, 11 concrete nouns and 10 abstract nouns but focussed primarily on the informants' reactions to the group o f abstract nouns. The underlying hypothesis targeted the cultural specificity of meaning construction. It was assumed that abstract nouns require a more intensive activation o f mental images (for lack o f concrete references) and therefore lead to more metaphoric processes which in turn are reflected in a broader and more metaphoric spectrum of semantic associations by the informants. The results of the present exploratory study partly confirm the hypothesis but the study was not designed to produce conclusive results. However, it provides interesting insights into a field of investigation central to intercultural communication in general and language teaching in particular. The study finishes with a number o f tentative conclusions that might lead to further research and better (more sensitive) teaching practice.

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