Mental lexicon  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The mental lexicon is defined as a mental dictionary that contains information regarding a word's meaning, pronunciation, syntactic characteristics, and so on.

The mental lexicon is a construct used in linguistics and psycholinguistics to refer to individual speakers' lexical, or word, representations. However, not all scientists agree as to the utility of the mental lexicon as a scientific construct.

The mental lexicon differs from the lexicon in that it is not just a general collection of words; instead, it deals with how those words are activated, stored, processed, and retrieved by each speaker. An individual's mental lexicon changes and grows as new words are learned and is always developing, but there are several theorists that argue exactly how this occurs. Some theories about the mental lexicon include the spectrum theory, the dual-coding theory, Chomsky's nativist theory, as well as the semantic network theory. Scientists also study the areas of the brain involved in lexical representations. The following addresses some of the physiological, social, and linguistic aspects of the mental lexicon.

Recent studies have also shown the possibility that the mental lexicon can shrink as an individual ages, limiting the number of words they can remember and learn. The development of a second mental lexicon (L2) in bilingual speakers has also emerged as a topic of interest, suggesting that a speaker's multiple languages are not stored together, but as separate entities that are actively chosen from in each linguistic situation.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Mental lexicon" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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