‘A Tale of Two Cities’: Lexical Bundles as Indicators of Linguistic Choices and Socio-cultural Traces

in Stylistics and Social Cognition
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This study focuses on the frequency and nature of the lexical choices in two corpora made up of 195 creative writing texts produced by Brazilian public school pupils, living in two markedly different places: a violent inner-city area, and a semi-rural setting near a small market town. To this end, the research adopts a frequency and distribution approach for the extraction and comparison of sequences of words in each of the corpora.

Initially, the discussion focuses on the methodological difficulties encountered when dealing with texts produced by language users with orthographic and punctuation problems. Subsequently, the concept of ‘lexical bundles’ is applied to the data in question, i.e., the most frequent sequences of words are extracted, and classified according to Biber, Conrad & Cortes’ (2004) framework. Finally, results are presented which highlight the large number of lexical patterns in the texts from the semi-rural group, in contrast with a large degree of lexical variability in the texts written by the inner-city pupils. It is suggested that these differences may be attributed to the sociological profile of each individual group.

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