This work focuses on the learnability of lexical items in a foreign language, background knowledge being an essential factor in what can be learnt and how. Background knowledge is understood here as the conceptual and schematic content of a subject’s cognitive resources (extralinguistic background knowledge), his/her native language with its potential for transfer (part one of linguistic background knowledge) and the already existing knowledge of the target language (part two of linguistic background knowledge). I explore the compatibility of the properties of lexical items with the properties of such components of background knowledge. In other words, by background knowledge I understand all the cognitive resources that the learner can mobilise for the demands of a new learning task. I first present an overview of the issues discussed in the literature (Part One) and then I address experimentally those areas which, as far as I am aware, have not received a satisfactory amount of researchers' attention (Part Two).
[fragment form INTRODUCTION]