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Maïté Dupont

Abstract

Drawing upon the theoretical framework of systemic functional linguistics, this study investigates seven highly frequent adverbial connectors of contrast (i.e. however, instead, nevertheless, though, on the other (hand), still and in contrast) across three language registers, with a view to assessing the (combined) impact of lexis and register on their placement and discourse functions. The results show that both the frequency and positioning of the connectors investigated vary significantly across registers. In addition, the connectors investigated display clear lexical preferences, with each connector exhibiting its own distinctive placement pattern. When looking at both register and lexis simultaneously, two main types of placement profiles emerge: while some connectors display very stable placement profiles across registers, other lexical items exhibit rather variable patterns depending on the register in which they are used. In other words, whereas some connectors tend to display strong lexical priming, others exhibit some degree of what we might call stylistic priming. The study also provides some evidence of the benefits of a combination of systemic functional linguistics with corpus linguistics, notably with respect to the study of the Rheme.

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Karin Aijmer

Abstract

The present study is concerned with comparing the intensifiers very, really and so modifying adjectives on the basis of comparable corpora representing the English spoken in Britain, the US, New Zealand and Singapore. The analysis is both quantitative and qualitative. The results of the quantitative comparison showed that there were differences both with regard to the overall frequency of the intensifiers and the distribution of the individual intensifiers in the varieties. The three intensifiers had a higher overall frequency in Singapore English. On the other hand, American English speakers used intensifiers less frequently suggesting that they use other strategies for intensification or can do without them. Singapore English stood out because of the frequency of very, while really had a higher frequency than both very and so in New Zealand English. The study also confirmed earlier research that so is on the rise in American English. The qualitative analysis was concerned with the type of adjectives the intensifiers collocated with. The intensifiers were used most frequently with evaluative adjectives indicating states, judgement of properties and appreciation. However, the intensifiers differed with regard to whether the modified adjective had positive or negative connotations. The differences between the varieties were explained with regard to political factors such as the educational system in the country, developmental stage in terms of Schneider’s (2003, 2007) developmental model and foundation history.

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Sebastian Hoffmann, Andrea Sand, Sabine Arndt-Lappe and Lisa Marie Dillmann

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Antoinette Renouf

Abstract

In studying lexis and lexico-grammar in a large, diachronic text corpus, it is possible to observe the “life-cycle” of new words (Renouf, 2013), but the circumstances of coinage are typically hazy. Such information is of use to lexicologists, and the aim of this study is to pinpoint and analyse new word coinages in a corpus of 1.5 billion words of UK newspaper texts from 1984 to 2014. (http://wse1.webcorp.org.uk/).

Firstly, candidate neologisms are automatically identified, and the marking of their birth by coinage signals like new word is studied manually. Next, signals are extracted from Bauer’s (2001) list of potential words, and their functionality tested as markers of potential coinage. Thirdly, a set of likely signals is used to extract words and phrases later in their life-cycle. Finally, the sampled data are organised into a typological framework.

Our findings at this point are that there are few signalled coinages in the data sampled. Equally, coinage signalling is often imponderable, for reasons such as functional ambiguity (denotational, stylistic, rhetorical). Nevertheless, a working typology of coinage based on signalling does seem to emerge.

Series:

Costas Gabrielatos

Abstract

This paper aims to contribute to both lexicogrammatical description and language pedagogy. It examines lexicogrammatical patterns of be interested in L1 and L2 speech and writing, using the BNC, ICLE and LINDSEI, as well as the relevant information in pedagogical materials (grammars and dictionaries) for intermediate and advanced learners. The methodology combines quantitative and qualitative analyses, and employs automated and manual techniques. The analysis involves multiple comparisons: pedagogical information is critically evaluated in light of L1 use, L2 use is compared to L1 use, as well as to the information in pedagogical materials, in order to establish any correlations between pedagogical input and learner use. The results reveal that, even when addressed at advanced learners, pedagogical materials provide incomplete information on the lexicogrammatical patterns of be interested. L1 use shows distinct differences between speech and writing, which are not mirrored in L2 use. Overall, L2 use shows correlations with pedagogical information rather than L1 use. On a theoretical level, the results also support the inseparability of lexis and grammar.

Series:

Edmund Weiner

Abstract

This paper takes an imaginative look at the data structures implicit in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). In the first part I ask what were the aspirations with which the project to digitise the OED (First Edition and Supplement) was initiated in the early 1980s, and then how the functionality of the first published electronic version of the OED, the CD-ROM of 1993, compares with that of the present OED Online (reissued in 2010). I conclude that though there are now numerous valuable added features there have been few major advances on the thinking that underlay the 1993 version. In the second part of the paper, I investigate in a preliminary way some of the central conceptual structures within the OED. I argue that many of these resemble three-dimensional networks of relationship between elements, rather than the current model of embedded linear entities.

Series:

John M. Kirk

Abstract

This article investigates the pragmatic uses of the discourse marker well in broadcast discussions using the data from the British and Irish components of the International Corpus of English. Building on the model of pragmatic functions developed by Aijmer (2013), the article shows well to have three main pragmatic functions: coherence, involvement and politeness. In turn, the article discusses several subfunctions of coherence well: as a turn-initial discourse connective, a marker of reported speech, a marker of word search and self-repair; and several subfunctions of involvement: as a marker of direct agreement, partial agreement, implied agreement, disagreement, neither agreement or disagreement, and of challenge. Each subfunction is quantified and the distribution in each corpus compared. Beyond close, contextualised readings of 230 examples, the article triangulates the register of broadcast discussions, the discourse marker well, and the regions of Ireland and Great Britain.

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Julia Schlüter and Gabriele Knappe

Abstract

In this paper we argue that (near) synonymy can result in syntactic specialization, and we test the hypothesis that one major factor underlying such fixation may be rhythmic in nature. Thus, the analysis extends the study of the preference for alternating stressed and unstressed syllables (Schlüter, 2005) to lexical choices. We investigate the syntactic distribution of the (near-) synonymous adjective pairs rich vs. wealthy, fast/quick vs. rapid, glad vs. happy and shut vs. closed, showing that the monosyllabic members—or the one with a short syllable as opposed to a long syllable—tend to be underrepresented in prenominal position. Our hypothesis is that, due to the pervasiveness of initial stress in English nouns, monosyllabic adjectives tend to be avoided in prenominal position if they can be replaced by disyllabic equivalents. By extension, in the absence of such equivalents, other kinds of temporal spacing between stresses, such as long instead of short syllables, can satisfy the rhythmic requirement. Drawing on large historical as well as present-day corpora covering the 19th and 20th centuries (mainly COHA and COCA), we portray some relatively stable asymmetrical diachronic and synchronic distributions of these synonym pairs and triplets across attributive and predicative uses. The analysis will also point to potentially interacting factors, such as concomitant semantic specialization resulting from this syntactic fixation and the status of (fixed) collocations. The latter will be analysed in more diachronic depth on the basis of EEBO.

Series:

Moisés Almela and Pascual Cantos

Abstract

This paper presents a proposal for refining the methods of semantic description based on corpus collocational data. The central tenet of our proposal is that the conventional description of collocation as a bipartite structure, along with the binary contrast of node and collocate, is inadequate for explaining certain forms of interaction observed in patterns involving more than two lexical items. Our contention is that, in addition to node and collocate, a third category (co-collocate) is required to account for those cases in which the cohesiveness of a collocational pair is not self-contained and the node-collocate attraction shows dependency on an element external to the pair itself. After explaining some necessary theoretical distinctions, we will present a step-by-step description of the methodology. Then we will illustrate how it can be applied to the analysis of co-collocational patterns found in the vicinity of the word consequence.

Series:

Yves Bestgen and Sylviane Granger

Abstract

In the last decade, learner corpus research has been characterised by a wide range of studies focused on phraseological aspects of learner language. However, very few have tracked the phraseological development of the same learners over an extended period of time. In this chapter, we discuss the results of an investigation of the learner phrasicon based on the Longitudinal Database of Learner English, a collection of written data produced by EFL learners over a period of three years. For our study, we made use of a subcorpus consisting of 178 texts written by 89 French-speaking learners. Each learner contributed an argumentative essay in their first year (T1) at university and another in their third year (T3) on the same topic. To assess learners’ phraseological development, we developed a methodology relying on collgrams, i.e. word bigrams that have been assigned two association scores (mutual information (MI) and t-score) on the basis of a large reference corpus. Analysis revealed a general tendency for T3 texts to contain fewer non-collocational bigrams (past people) and fewer high-scoring t-score collgrams (in particular), but more high-scoring MI collgrams (paramount importance). These results are very similar to those obtained when the same method is applied to cross-sectional data. In the conclusion, we point to some applications of the method for teaching, testing and automated scoring of learner texts.