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ENG 626 CORPUS APPROACHES TO LANGUAGE STUDIES language teaching (2) dictionary Bambang Kaswanti Purwo

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Presentation on theme: "ENG 626 CORPUS APPROACHES TO LANGUAGE STUDIES language teaching (2) dictionary Bambang Kaswanti Purwo"— Presentation transcript:

1 ENG 626 CORPUS APPROACHES TO LANGUAGE STUDIES language teaching (2) dictionary Bambang Kaswanti Purwo

2 corpus-based English dictionaries, e.g. ▪ Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English ▪ Cambridge Advanced Learner’ Dictionary ▪ Collins COBUILD Learner’s Dictionary ▪ Macmillan English Dictionary corpus-based English grammar books, e.g. ▪ Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English [Hunston, Ch. 5, 101; Adolphs, Ch. 7, 97] motivation for using a corpus approach ▪ offer a description of actual language in use ▪ capture contextual properties in relation to linguistic forms the study of authentic texts has revealed inconsistencies of the use of lexical n grammatical structures in corpora vs. in traditional language textbooks

3 [Hunston, Ch. 5, 101; Adolphs, Ch. 7, 97] emphasis on collocation and phraseology tendencies in dictionaries written using corpora: highlight collocation and phraseology asking for a light from a stranger (Newmark’s examples, as quoted in Keith Johnson 1981:1) [a structurally competent student] ▪ Have you fire? ▪ Do you have illumination? ▪ Are you a match’s owner? (Ellis 1997, as quoted in Adolphs 2006:97) ▪ speaking natively is speaking idiomatically using frequent and familiar collocations ▪ the job of the language learner to learn these familiar word sequences

4 [Hunston Ch. 5, 99] » [using tag corpora] compare frequency of the same word in terms of POS: as a noun and as a verb ▪ GORGE [n] ‘a valley with steep sides’ ▪ [v] ‘eat greedily’ ▪ GORGE [n] four times as frequent as GORGE [v]  put the [n] sense before the [v] sense frequency » compare the frequency of some words in the two modes ▪ BET, MEAN, THINK more frequent in spoken than in written English (I bet, I mean, I think) ▪ NEED more frequent than REQUIRE in both written and spoken English ▫ [in spoken English] NEED is more frequently used ▫ [in written English] REQUIRE is more frequently used

5 ▪ word definition: brink ‘as far as one can go without being in a condition or situation’ (Longman 1987) different ways dictionaries provide descriptions of the meaning of the word brink ▪ the phrase + reference to the emotive nature of the situation you might be on the brink of: ‘If you are on the brink of something, usually something important, terrible, or exciting, you are just about to do it or experience it’ (COUBILD 1995) ▪ the phrase be on the brink of ‘to be almost in a new and very different situation’: Karl is on the brink of a brilliant acting career (Longman 1995)

6 “central vs. typical” use of on the brink of ▪ a bad situation rather than a good one The economy is teetering on the brink of collapse … Failure to communicate had brought the two nations to the brink of war.  teeter + on bring + to collocation: dilemma for a dictionary writer: how to be selective from a wealth of information? brink is used in a variety of phrases ▪ the most frequent phrase: on the brink of ▪ the most frequent verb before: BE, TEETER, STAND, be poised, HOVER ▪ the second most frequent phrase: to the brink of, preceded by verbs such as BRING, TAKE, DRIVE, PUSH ▪ the phrases are typically followed by nouns indicating something bad

7 the problem: too much info to be dealt with in a brief dictionary entry ▪ Longman 1995 and COBUILD 1995 choose the most frequent phrase for their definition ▪ COBUILD 1995 tries to deal with the other phrases in examples, hoping the learner will extrapolate ▫ what is essential (the phrase on the brink of, to the brink of) ▫ what is useful (the verbs teetering and has brought) phraseology – particularly important in the case of very frequent words  fairly fixed phrases e.g. day most frequently in one day, the other day, some day phraseology in relation to grammatical words ▪ many instances of a – in phrases such as come to a head rather than occurring as an alternative to the or another DET

8 [Hunston Ch. 5, 105-6] meaning and pattern ▪ resource for vocabulary building the word treated as part of a phrase rather than in isolation ▪ words with similar behaviors tend to have similar meanings N + for ‘a reaction or feeling towards someone or something’ admiration, disdain, dislike, love, regards, respect, sympathy ▫ feeling of intense wanting: appetite, craving, desire, hunger, need, thirst ▫ ‘looking or asking for’: bid, demand, quest, search ▪ share a pattern, share an aspect of meaning ▫ V n to n (e.g. conceded victory to the ruling party) ‘something to do with giving’: accord, administer, allocate, allot, arrogate, assign, award, bequeath, bring, cede, commit, concede, contribute, dedicate, delegate, deliver, dispense, distribute, etc.

9 authenticity and typicality ▪ all dictionary writers agree typicality is important [typical: the most frequent meanings, or collocates, or phraseology of an individual word or phrase] not all agree absolute authenticity is desirable ▪ (Baugh et al. 1996) most citations are unsuitable for a learner dictionary ▫ too complex grammatically ▫ contain unnecessary difficult words or idioms ▫ make culture-dependent allusions or references to specific contexts ▪ Longman 1995, xvi ▫ examples are taken direct from the corpus ▫ some have been changed slightly from the corpus to remove difficult words ▫ some have been written specially for the entry

10 Cambridge Learner’s Dictionary (2001) ▪ stresses naturalness and typicality rather than authenticity COBUILD 1995 ▪ make the strongest claim to authenticity itself ▫ the majority of the examples are taken word for word from one of the texts in the Bank of English ▫ occasionally very minor changes are made  more successful as dictionary examples Fox (1987) ▪ invented examples often not reflect nuances of usage ▫ authentic: take aback – typically in passive: I was taken aback by …. ▫ invented: His reaction took me aback. ▫ not make reference to specific contexts, often over-explicit

11 Corpus information is by definition context-bound ▪ Lexical items in corpora do not appear in isolation ▪ Corpora help learners with ‘real language’ ▪ Corpora are more cumbersome to use than dictionaries ▪ We need corpus tools to get information from corpora ▪ Corpus information is not validated (peer-reviewed) the way dictionary information is Krista Varantola, The contextual turn in learning to translate ▪ Used to have the ideal of context-free, generally valid information ▪ The electronic format allows more freedom ▪ Greater awareness of the role of the context ▪ More collocational information ▪ More usage examples ▪ Even access to corpus examples

12 ▪ Awareness of semantic prosody ▪ Meaning a much less clear-cut category ▪ Ordering of word senses based on their ‘real’ frequency ▪ Awareness of lexicographic relevance Problems in present-day dictionaries ▪ Equal prominence given to rare and unusual words and senses (Rundell) ▪ Lack of pragmatics (right - is used conversationally far more frequently than in the sense ‘correct’’) ▪ Lack of lexicographic relevance ▪ Number of lines in the entry vs. frequency in use inarticulacy, inarticulateness appear a total of seven times in the BNC, yet they are allocated several lines in a well- known learner’s dictionary

13 Dictionary issues cont. What is word meaning? ▪ Word meaning is probabilistic ▪ We discern tendencies or preferencies ▪ We need prototype theory and core meanings (Hanks) What do we need? ▪ A more phrasally-oriented approach with phraseology (Cowie) ▪ information on collocational patterns and combinatory tendencies of prefabricated units ▪ information on variation. “Conversation is a journey” (Cf. Lakoff and Johnson). Conversation drifts, revolves around, veers, wanders, moves. (Rundell)

14 What are corpora good for? ▪ They are not word-oriented. ▪ The searchable unit-size is not fixed in the way it is in dictionaries ▪ They can be manipulated and dissected ▪ They give information of word use or of the use of prefabricated chunks and longer stretches of text ▪ […]

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