Lexical Priming: A New Theory of Words and Language

Front Cover
Routledge, 2005 - Foreign Language Study - 202 pages
2 Reviews
"Lexical Priming "proposes a radical new theory of the lexicon, which amounts to a completely new theory of language based on how words are used in the real world. Here they are not confined to the definitions given to them in dictionaries but instead interact with other words in common patterns of use. Classical theory holds that grammar is generated first and words are then dropped into the opportunities thus created; Hoey's theory reverses the roles of lexis and grammar, arguing that lexis is complexly and systematically structured and that grammar is an outcome of this lexical structure. He shows that the phenomenon of 'collocation', the property of language whereby two or more words seem to appear frequently in each other's company (e.g., 'inevitable' and 'consequence'), offers a clue to the way language is really organised. Using concrete statistical evidence from a corpus of newspaper English, but also referring to travel writing and literary text, the author argues that words are 'primed' for use through our experience with them, so that everything we know about a word is a product of our encounters with it

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - signature103 - LibraryThing

An original, thorough, and unique approach to language. Hoey builds a case for the need to link priming (as the title suggests) with wider, less grammar-based, more lexical-based thinking about ... Read full review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

A general theory of the lexicon potentially capable of accounting for language contact phenomena such as code-switching has finally arrived. If an L2 item found in the lexical environment of an L1 item is treated as its collocate rather than a gap-filler, then it can be claimed that a new meaning, which previously was unavailable, is being created through this relationship. The importance of collocation as a central organizing principle in linguistic data as well as in the speaker’s mental lexicon has been recognized. It has been observed that such units have high frequency not only in language contact data but also in monolingual corpora and may acquire fixed status through frequent use even if they initially fail to conform to the rules of L1 or L2. When new co-occurrence patterns acquire fixed status they will be classified as borrowings, usually determined by a frequency threshold, and those patterns that fail to meet the frequency requirement will be treated as instances of code-switching. Priming assumes encounters with instances of language; it therefore presupposes contact. On the basis of corpus data, collocation is treated as a psycholinguistic phenomenon and the psychological notion of priming is brought in to explain the relationship speakers form between words.  

Other editions - View all

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2005)

Michael Hoey is a leading figure in English Language and Applied linguistics and a highly respected researcher and author. His Patterns of Lexis of Text (OUP) won the Duke of Edinburgh English Speaking Union prize in 1991. He is currently Baines Professor of English Language at the University of Liverpool.

Bibliographic information