Cross-linguistic influence of propositional and lexical semantics errors in Indonesian learner texts

Devina Devina


Advanced language acquisition applies rigorous understanding of the target language (TL) which oftentimes achieved by comparing mother tongue features to the TL. This is where cross-linguistic influence (CLI) occurs as learners transfer knowledge among languages. The study aims at investigating CLI in propositional and lexical semantics through questionnaire, weekly discussion, and assignment entries of 34 learner texts of Indonesian for Business Communication course at a private university in West Jakarta. Referring to Odlin’s (1989) CLI framework of semantics domain, the results show that CLI presents in 1) propositional semantics by 37.6% (i.e., semantic case by 4,3% and semantic universality and relativism by 33,3%) and 2) lexical semantics by 62,3% (i.e., cognate vocabulary by 8,6%; lexical universals and acquisition by 43% and lexicon and morphology by 10,7%).  English (as the medium of instruction) influences the Indonesian production in word-choice, demonstrative determiner ini and itu; prefix-suffix conjugation (i.e., particle -lah, active-passive voice); and relative conjunction yang. The findings suggest the patterns of error produced by learners whose mother tongue is Dutch and who use English as their second language. Moreover, in Indonesian for Business Communication course, lecturers can refer to the findings of this research as a guide to support learners with their Indonesian language production. The findings also demonstrate that learners who are familiar with informal-daily Indonesian take more time in developing adequate formal Indonesian, compared to those who do not use the language as their daily communication.


Cognitive semantics; cross-linguistic influence; Indonesian as a foreign language; language transfer; propositional and lexical semantics

Full Text:



Bárkányi, Z. (2021). Motivation, self-efficacy beliefs, and speaking anxiety in language MOOCs. ReCALL, 33(2), 143-160.

Benke, E. (2016). Foreign language needs in the workplace: The occupational perspective. Some Issues in Pedagogy and Methodology, 98-107.

Birk, S. J., & Kausel, E. E. (2016). The language of fairness: How cross-linguistic norms in Spanish and English influence reactions to unfair treatment. The Spanish Journal of Psychology, 19, 1-15.

Bernardini, P., & Granfeldt, J. (2019). On cross‐linguistic variation and measures of linguistic complexity in learner texts: Italian, French and English. International Journal of Applied Linguistics. 29(2), 211-232.

Cummins, J. (1989). Linguistic interdependence and the educational development of bilingual children. Review of Educational Research, 49(2), 222-251.

European Commision. (2015). Study on foreign language proficiency and employability: Final report.

Gao, J., & Ma, S. (2021). Learning condition, linguistic complexity, and first language transfer in semiartificial language learning. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 43(2), 355-378.

Haman, E., Wodniecka, Z., Marecka, M., Szewczyk, J., Białecka-Pikul, M., Otwinowska, A., & Foryś-Nogala, M. (2017). How does L1 and L2 exposure impact L1 performance in bilingual children? Evidence from Polish-English migrants to the United Kingdom. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1-21.

Izabella, R. (2019). Cross-linguistic influence - A friend or a foe. ERD 2018 6th International Conference – “Education, Reflection, Development, Sixth Edition,” 203-210.

Kachru, B., Kachru, Y., & Nelson, C. (2006). The handbook of world Englishes. Blackwell Publishing.

Kecskés, I., & Papp, T. N. (2000). Foreign language and mother tongue (1st ed.).

Lado, R. (1957). Linguistics across cultures: Applied linguistics for language teachers. University of Michigan Press.

Melchor-Couto, S. (2018). Virtual world anonymity and foreign language oral interaction. ReCALL, 30(2), 232-249.

Müller, N. (1998). Transfer in bilingual language acquisition. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 1(3), 151-191.

O'brien, M. G., Jackson, C. N., & Gardner, C. E. (2014). Cross-linguistic differences in prosodic cues to syntactic disambiguation in German and English. Applied Psycholinguistics, 35(2014), 27-70.

Odlin, T. (1989). Language transfer: Cross-linguistic influence in language learning.

OECD. (2019). PISA 2018 assessment and analytical framework.

OECD. (2021). PISA 2025 foreign language assessment framework.

Sneddon, J. N. (1996). Indonesian: A comprehensive grammar. Routledge.

Solman, R. T., & Chung, K. K. (1996). Language transfer and blocking in second language vocabulary learning. Journal of Behavioral Education, 6(2), 173-190.

Son, M. (2020). Cross-linguistic syntactic priming in Korean learners of English. Applied Psycholinguistics, 41(5), 1223-1247.

Talebi, S. H. (2014). Cross-linguistic transfer among Iranian learners of English as a foreign language. Issues in Educational Research, 24(2), 212-227.

Yang, M., Cooc, N., & Sheng, L. (2017). An investigation of cross-linguistic transfer between Chinese and English: A meta-analysis. Asian-Pacific Journal of Second and Foreign Language Education, 2(1), 1-21.

Yule, G. (2020). The study of language (7th ed.).

Zhou, J., Mai, Z., & Yip, V. (2020). Bidirectional cross-linguistic influence in object realization in Cantonese–English bilingual children. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 24(1), 96-110.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

View My Stats

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.