Semantic Errors Committed by Yemeni University Learners: Classifications and Sources

Mohammed Qassem Al-Shormani, Yehia Ahmed Al-Sohbani


Examining and studying semantic errors in second language acquisition (SLA) is an interesting and challenging area of investigation which is still fertile requiring much more research. In spite of the considerable number of investigations into lexical errors, very few studies have tackled semantic errors committed by SL learners. Thus, this study aims at not only examining Arab learners’ semantic errors in English, how they can be classified but also investigating their possible L1 and L2 sources.30 essays written by Yemeni University third-level students majoring in English were analyzed. We have also employed a comprehensive error taxonomy based on James’s (1998) and Al-Shormani’s (2010).The semantic errors identified in this study were classified into three broad categories, namely, lexical, collocation and lexicogrammatical. Each of these categories is classified into further categories and subcategories depending on the errors identified. There were 1388 semantic errors identified in our study. It has been found that omission of letters category scores the highest number of errors, viz. 251, i.e. 18.08% while misselection of a prefix category is the lowest where only12, i.e. (0.68%) errors were committed. A hierarchy of difficulty is established where formal misformations category represents the highest extreme and formal misselection the lowest one. It has also been found that L1 sources include translating concepts, words and phrases literally from L1, i.e. Arabic into L2, i.e. English and applying Arabic linguistic rules to English. However, L2 sources include having false concepts about English, insufficient knowledge of English semantic system and confusion about English vocabulary.

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International Journal of English Linguistics   ISSN 1923-869X (Print)   ISSN 1923-8703 (Online)

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