One of the most common lexical misuse problems in the second language context concerns near synonyms. Dictionaries and thesauri often overlook the nuances of near synonyms and make reference to near synonyms in providing definitions. The semantic differences and implications of near synonyms are not easily recognized and often fail to be acquired by L2 learners. This study addressed the distinctions of synonymous semantics in the context of second language learning and use. The purpose is to examine the effects of lexical collocation behaviors on identifying salient semantic features and revealing subtle difference between near synonyms. We conducted both analytical evaluation and empirical evaluation to verify that proper use of collocation information leads to learners' successful comprehension of lexical semantics. Both results suggest that the process of organizing and identifying salient semantic features is favorable for and is accessible to a good portion of L2 learners, and thereby, improving near-synonym distinction.
International Journal of Computational Linguistics and Chinese Language Processing, Vol.14, No.2, pp.205-220