Lexicalization (in neurocognitive linguistics)

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On lexicalization Lamb notes that even though a word such as happiness can be understood on the basis of the meanings of its constituent morphemes, the frequency with which this combination occurs is such that the lexicon of the typical speaker will contain not just the separate lexemes "happy" and "-ness" but also a complex lexeme "happiness". Moreover, for this to be the case it is unnecessary for the meaning of "happiness" to be in any way idiomatic: It is repeated use rather than degree of idiomaticity that determines presence or absence of a higher-level lexical [node].

Furthermore, the more frequently any part of the linguistic network (or wider cognitive network) is used, the easier it is to use it again: "The pathways of the brain are like pathways through a meadow or field or jungle--the more they are used the easier they become to use again".

In formalizing this phenomenon in Relational Network Grammar (rng), lines of different strengths are used (e.g. they are drawn with different thicknesses) and it is assumed that the strengths of the lines corresponding to frequently used items will increase over time.

A Google search on the words happy, happiness, full and fullness, carried out on July 5, 2005, revealed that while the word "happiness" was only 7 times less frequent than "happy", "fullness" was 443 times less frequent than "full". If these figures are representative of a typical speaker's receptive and productive experience with the words in question, it seems reasonable to assume that he/she might either have no single node corresponding to the word "fullness" or, at least, that its connections would be rather weak compared with those of "happiness".