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Tracing idiomaticity in learner language: the case of BE Przemysław Kaszubski School of English Adam Mickiewicz University Poznań, Poland CL2001 Lancaster.

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Presentation on theme: "Tracing idiomaticity in learner language: the case of BE Przemysław Kaszubski School of English Adam Mickiewicz University Poznań, Poland CL2001 Lancaster."— Presentation transcript:

1 Tracing idiomaticity in learner language: the case of BE Przemysław Kaszubski School of English Adam Mickiewicz University Poznań, Poland CL2001 Lancaster University 30 March - 02 April 2001

2 CL2001, Lancaster University Premises (1) zEFL learners’ overuse of high-frequency words: what does it mean? yIntensive collocability of core lexical items yMulti-word extensions (compounds, coinages, idioms, expressions, phrasals) zConfrontation yAvailable corpus-driven extraction methods vs. ypedagogical usefulness: L1-perspective (the role of transfer)

3 CL2001, Lancaster University Premises (2) zMethodological assumptions ymulti-corpus scheme with Polish advanced EFL learner data as hub data yvariables: a) genre / text-type; b) L1; c) proficiency level d) age / maturity level yLemma-based approach (as opposed to wordform- or family-oriented approaches) zLexical BE: non-idiomatic or ignored because troublesome?

4 CL2001, Lancaster University The hypotheses znegative correlation between proficiency level and frequencies of non-idiomatic uses zpositive correlation between proficiency level and frequencies of idiomatic BE except EFL learners’ ‘favourite expressions’ ztraceability of (at least) some ‘favourite expressions’ to L1

5 CL2001, Lancaster University The challenge of idiomatic BE (1): extraction of ‘verbal’ BE zlexical (semantic BE) = readily translatable lexically: existential BE; copular BE ymain-verb function ynon-finite forms: infinitives and participles (the latter if not adjectival) ynon-finite forms: non-count gerunds (NOT ‘a being’) zpassive auxiliary: central passives vs semi- and pseudo-passives (cf. Quirk et al. 1985: )

6 CL2001, Lancaster University The challenge of idiomatic BE (2): semi-lexical MWUs zmodal idiom ‘BE to ’ zsemi-auxiliaries (BE=linking BE) yBE able to ; BE about to ; BE apt to ; BE bound to y‘Polish-style’ semi-auxiliary: BE allowed to

7 CL2001, Lancaster University The ‘extended’ tripartite idiomaticity model: the criteria zlexical fixedness zsyntactic fixedness and / or anomaly zsemantic opacity zlexicalisation / institutionalisation / specialisation / conventionality = frequency + distribution zimplementation of fourth criterion via external sources BBI2 & LDOCE3

8 CL2001, Lancaster University The ‘extended’ tripartite idiomaticity model: the levels zfrozen expressions zrestricted uses yrestricted collocations ydiscourse formulae zfree combinations

9 CL2001, Lancaster University The challenge of idiomatic BE (3): implementation of the frozen level zfrozen uses: BE frozen lexically and formally in a particular wordform y‘that is (to say)’; ‘to be sure’ (= certainly); ‘for the time being’ (= currently) yphrasal idioms: ‘to have been around’

10 CL2001, Lancaster University Lexical BE: restricted uses (1) yphrasal-prepositional uses of BE (e.g. ‘BE into ’, ‘BE on’) ysuper-pattern BE + idiom: A survey of the complementation patterns of lexical BE (based on the evidence of Quirk et al. 1985) has shown that the verb tends to be followed by complements that: a) either constitute idiomatic phrases b) or restrict BE’s realm of reference by influencing its subject collocates c) or else form simple, ad-hoc, fully compositional phrases (BE ; BE ; BE )

11 CL2001, Lancaster University Lexical BE: restricted uses (2): BE + idiom (1): prototypical types ya) BE : xBE + adjectival idioms or collocations - predicatively unified and often substitutable by a single verb (‘BE conditional upon - cf. depend on ; BE alive - cf. live) xpredicative pseudo-passives and semi-passives (‘BE composed of ’, ‘BE connected with ’, ‘BE situated ’) xBE + adjectival / participial predicate + to-clause (‘BE liable to ’, ‘BE reluctant to ’) yb) BE : xBE + nominal idiom (‘BE a bitter pill for (to swallow)’; ‘it BE high time’)

12 CL2001, Lancaster University Lexical BE: restricted uses (3): BE + idiom (2): non-prototypical zc) BE : ymeans adjuncts: conventionalised / lexically fixed (‘Transport is by ferry’) or replacing a longer predicate or a central passive (‘such contracts are with people who...’ = ‘are signed with’) ystimulus adjuncts: rare & restricted by BE’s subject (‘his main interest was in sport’) yagent adjuncts: usually restricted to authorship (‘The book is by an unknown writer’) ymeasure adjuncts: non-prototypical though probably salient (‘The jacket was 10 pounds’ - cf. ‘The prize was 10 pounds’)

13 CL2001, Lancaster University BE: restricted uses (4): discourse- conditioned phrases

14 CL2001, Lancaster University Lexical BE: free combinations ynon-idiomatic complementation of the prototypical types (‘the young are reckless’; ‘he was a man in his late forties’) ynon-idiomatic cases of obligatory but fully semantically compositional adverbial complementation: xBE (‘It was 10 years ago’; ‘Pure fire (= the stars) are in the heavens’.) xBE (BE with, BE for, BE about ) y‘there BE’ and BE after anticipatory ‘it’: unless lexicalised or specialised, as in ‘it BE high time’, ‘there BE every reason that’ etc.

15 CL2001, Lancaster University Lexical BE: Other cases yin cleft and pseudo-cleft sentences: (‘It is marriage that constitutes the basic part of every nation’; ‘All his people ask for is no more war’) ysubject-to-subject raising after copulas (SEEM (to be), TURN OUT ) or when complementing mental verbs (BE found/thought etc. (to be))

16 CL2001, Lancaster University Idiomatic BE: automatic extraction? (1) zProblem 1: collocation vs co-occurrence yword clusters xMany genuine collocations and MWUs are not contiguous (Kennedy 1998: 114) and may spill outside the typical 4:4 window yco-occurrence statistics (WordSmith; TACT, CUE) xMI - identifies ‘idiosyncratic collocations’ (Oakes 1998; 90) & fails to associate many lemmas xz-score & t-score - better suited to frequent words but also mutual and leaving much ‘noise’ ystop-listing not quite possible

17 CL2001, Lancaster University Idiomatic BE: automatic extraction? (2) zProblem 2: part-of-speech tagging ythe passive bottleneck- the need for sampling zProblem 3: semantic disambiguation and associations ysometimes only grouping data uncovers a meaningful type of association (Stubbs 1998:4) zProblem 4: learner data

18 CL2001, Lancaster University The corpus base: full specification

19 CL2001, Lancaster University Do Polish EFL writers overuse BE? (1) zNon-lexical BE: yunderuse: central passives (especially at lower proficiency levels) yoveruse: ‘BE going to ’ (diminishing with proficiency) yoveruse: ‘BE able to ’ (especially advanced- level learners) zLexical BE: yfrozen BE: scarce ylower-proficiency: fewer collocational idioms & many more free combinations

20 CL2001, Lancaster University Lexical BE: summary of 500-line concordance samples

21 CL2001, Lancaster University Do Polish EFL writers overuse BE? (2): some specific findings zfrozen BE: yoveruse: ‘what is more’ (cf. Polish ‘co więcej’) zRestricted collocations (BE + idiom): yintermediate overuse: ‘BE full of ’ (cf. Polish ‘być pełnym czegoś’) yoveruse: ‘BE connected / associated {etc.} with ’ (cf. Polish ‘być związanym z czymś’) yunderuse: ‘BE concerned with ’ as opposed to the overused formula ‘as far as BE concerned’ (cf. Polish ‘jeśli chodzi o...’)

22 CL2001, Lancaster University Do Polish EFL writers overuse BE? (3): some specific findings zRestricted level: discourse formulae: yheavy overuse: ‘that/this BE why...’ (also ‘that’s why’) (cf. Polish ‘Dlatego (właśnie)’) y(sentence initial) overuse: ‘what is (more) (cf. Polish ‘co ważne’) zOVERALL IMPRESSION: yMany more phrases are overused than underused yOverused expressions are either likely underpinned by equivalent or associated L1-based options, or by the (spoken) familiarity of a phrase (‘BE able to’; ‘BE going to’), or both.

23 CL2001, Lancaster University Conclusions yEFL learners do apply BE more frequently, but not only lexical uses and free combinations add to the impression ySadly, analyses of the like kind are hardly possible automatically or even semi-automatically, but they may serve as benchmarks for developing tools that will more successfully tackle BE in larger corpora ySuch quantitative and contrastive accounts of EFL learner language are needed, especially at higher proficiency levels, despite caveats about idealised native corpus ‘norms’ (cf. Leech 1998)

24 CL2001, Lancaster University This show shortly available from: zhttp://main.amu.edu.pl/~przemka/rsearch.html


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