Degrees of abstraction in French and English generic nouns : an analysis of word association tasks



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In language, there exists a distinction between abstract words and concrete words. It can be said that abstract words refer to generic concepts, while concrete words pertain to physical actions or objects associated with physical movement. With respect to the linguistic community, it is often claimed that French words function at a higher degree of abstraction than English words. However, this claim lacks empirical evidence. The present study aims to examine the usage of concrete and abstract words in word association tasks, which are part of Cultura: an intercultural, web-based project that brings foreign language students from different countries and linguistic backgrounds together in a telecollaborative exchange of ideas. Specifically, this study examines the degrees of abstraction of generic nouns in French and English.