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date: 11 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter clarifies what first language (L1) lexical attrition is and synthesizes the literature that describes its varied manifestations as well as the three most prominent hypotheses that have been formulated to account for how, why, when, and where L1 lexical attrition will occur. These include the dormant language hypothesis, threshold hypothesis, and interference hypothesis. The chapter also discusses the findings of past studies that have investigated the potential effects of linguistic, social, and psycholinguistic variables on the L1 lexical fluency and accuracy of language learners, bilinguals, and multilinguals. Additionally, the chapter describes the proper use of existing methods for measuring L1 lexical attrition in relation to lexical accuracy, fluency, and complexity through tasks designed to elicit free-production, controlled, and paralinguistic (e.g., reaction-time) data, and through the use of instruments specially designed to measure lexical complexity in free-production data. The chapter concludes with recommendations for necessary future research.

Keywords: lexical attrition, lexical fluency, lexical complexity, lexical accuracy, lexical diversity, cross-linguistic influence, vocabulary loss, dormant language hypothesis, threshold hypothesis, interference hypothesis

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