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Patterns of lexis in learner language: Lithuanian learners of English vs. native speakers Rita Juknevičienė Department of English Philology Vilnius University.

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Presentation on theme: "Patterns of lexis in learner language: Lithuanian learners of English vs. native speakers Rita Juknevičienė Department of English Philology Vilnius University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Patterns of lexis in learner language: Lithuanian learners of English vs. native speakers Rita Juknevičienė Department of English Philology Vilnius University 2-6 September 2010, SLE Conference in Vilnius

2 Research focus Structural features of written learner English. Contrastive analysis of multi - word units, i.e. lexical bundles in learner language. Structural differences at different levels of achievement.

3 Research questions 1.Structural features of lexical bundles Distribution across major structural types: verbal, clausal, phrasal (Biber 2006), e.g. it is obvious that, to take into account, the nature of the, in the case of. 2.Patterns in lexical bundles: Do lexical patterns get “bundlized”? If so, is it proficiency level - related? Which patterns are most frequent, e.g. V n “to write a letter” or V to - inf “want to do sth.” (Hunston & Francis 2000).

4 Previous studies De Cock (2004): lexical bundles in English produced by French EFL learners and NS learners Biber et al. (2004), Biber (2006): structural and functional classification Cortes (2004) and Hyland (2008): lexical bundles in articles from different research fields Chen & Baker (2010): lexical bundles in L1 and L2 academic writing (BAWE corpus)

5 Lexical bundles Terminology: –recurrent sequences (Altenberg 1998, De Cock 1998), –lexical bundles (Biber et al. 1999, 2004, Cortes 2008, Hyland 2008), –clusters (Scott 1999), –chunks (O’Keeffe et al. 2007). Established exclusively on frequency criteria Structurally and semantically incomplete E xamples: in the, and then, one of the, and this is, I think that, in addition to this, or something like that

6 Corpora of learner English NNS corpora (Lithuanian learners): –AFK1 1 st year students of English Philology words, 226 essays –LICLE 3 rd -4 th year students of English Philology words, 253 essays NS corpus –LOCNESS native speakers of English (British and American) words, 197 essays

7 Lexical bundles in this study –Length: 2 -, 3 -, 4 - and 5 - word bundles Examples: I think, people are not, it is better to, becoming more and more, one of the most etc. –Frequency: 4 times per 100,000 words –Distribution: at least 4 texts –Method: automatically extracted with WordSmith Tools (v.5) manually revised eliminating topical and identical bundles of varying lengths

8 Structural types of lexical bundles Structural types: –Bundles incorporating noun/prepositional phrases, e.g. the way in which, a little bit more –Bundles incorporating verb phrases, e.g. you know it was, is going to be –Bundles incorporating dependent clause phrases, e.g what I want to, to come up with

9 Findings: structural types Most significantly overused subtypes in NNS corpora: (connector) + 3 rd person pron + VP fragment (there are a lot, it is not, it is the most, as it was mentioned); VP with non-passive verb (be one of the, become more and more, will not be able, do not have to) Most significantly overused subtypes in NNS corpora: (verb/adj+) to-clause fragment: In order to be, do not want to, to be able to (verb/adj+) that-clause fragment: that there is a, that it is not, that it should be Most significantly underused subtypes in NNS corpora: NP with of-phrase fragment: the number of the, the end of the, the idea of the Prepositional phrase expressions: at the end of, at the same time, due to the fact

10 Findings: verbal bundles Lexical bundles contain patterns of complementation of individual words: –Belong to, people claim that, go to the etc. Could they reveal any differences among the corpora? Each bundle examined and coded for a specific verbal pattern: –V n, V prep, V that etc. (Hunston and Francis 1999) think about the – V prep do not think that – V that to understand the – V n to understand what you – V wh to understand that – V that

11 Findings: verbal patterns in lexical bundles (% of the total in the corpus)

12 Findings: verbal bundles Numbers of bundles (both types and tokens) containing complementation patterns are significantly different: –AFK: 159 occurrences (norm. per words) –LICLE: 112 occurrences –LOCNESS: 111 occurrences But NS language has more different patterns per lexeme while in AFK and to a lesser extent LICLE there are fewer patterns per lexeme. LOCNESS: To see the See how See that Be seen as Is seen to be AFK1: See the See that LICLE: See the See that Seen as a

13 Findings: clustering tendencies they want to we want to I think some people think many people think it is thought want to be wanted to think it is to think that the thinks about the thought that it was Which co - text, left or right, builds a bundle with the node word?

14 Example: BELIEVE AFK1: BELIEVE THAT (34) PEOPLE BELIEVE THAT (13) BELIEVE IN (9) BELIEVED THAT (7) IT IS BELIEVED THAT (7) TO BELIEVE (7) MANY PEOPLE BELIEVE THAT (5) PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE THAT (5) SOME PEOPLE BELIEVE THAT (5) I BELIEVE (4) BELIEVE THAT (26) I BELIEVE THAT (16) BELIEVED THAT (6) TO BELIEVE (5) BELIEVE IN (4) BELIEVED IN (4) I STRONGLY BELIEVE (4) LOCNESS: BELIEVE THAT (26) BELIEVE IN (17) I BELIEVE THAT (11) BELIEVED THAT (10) TO BELIEVE (8) NOT BELIEVE (7) THEY BELIEVE THAT (7) BELIEVE IT (4) LICLE:

15 Verbal patterns in lexical bundles Number of verbs used in full sentence stems is significantly different: –AFK1: 42 lexemes of which 27 recur in stem bundles “Subj+Verb” (64%) –LICLE: 57 lexemes of which 13 recur in stem bundles (23%) –LOCNESS: 61 lexemes of which 15 recur in stem bundles (24%) CONCLUSION: In the AFK1 corpus verbs tend to cluster with subjects of the sentences more often than with their complements.

16 Related studies Altenberg 1998: –In speech, sentence stems form the ‘springboard’ of utterances and lead to communicatively more important elements which express the rheme of the sentence. Granger 1998: –NNS learners significantly overuse the active sentence structure, e.g. I/we/ think, one/we could say/notice etc. Herriman and Boström Aronsson 2009: –The structural segment consisting of ”SUBJECT+VERB” is overused for the expression of theme. Hasselgård 2009: –I as subject overused in thematized stance expressions.

17 Hunston’s (2009) semantic sequences (‘what is often said’) A verbal pattern (e.g. “V that” as in believe that) can be studied as a single word for its collocates. Collocates of verbal patterns in learner language may be very different from NS data.

18 Examples of semantic sequences from lexical bundles AFK1 corpus: –SOME / MANY PEOPLE believe that –IT IS said that / PEOPLE say that –(SOME) PEOPLE / THEY / I think LICLE/LOCNESS corpus: –believe that / in –say that / is said TO BE –think about / that

19 Conclusions 1.Structural analysis of lexical bundles informs about discourse features of learner language. 2.Distribution of structural types suggests that lower - level learner language is closer to spoken English while more advanced learner writing bears more resemblance to written academic English.

20 Conclusions 3. Patterns of lexis as represented in lexical bundles offer insights into text construction strategies used by the learners. 4. Verbal lexical bundles in NNS language reveal not a verb complementation pattern but a full sentence stem, so in writing NNS learners are more worried about message construction rather than its development.

21 References Altenberg, B On the Phraseology of Spoken English: The Evidence of Recurrent Word-Combinations. In Cowie, A. P. (ed.) Phraseology: Theory, Analysis and Applications. Oxford: Oxford University Press Biber, D University Language. A Corpus-Based Study of Spoken and Written Registers. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. Biber, D., Conrad, S. and Cortes, V If You Look at…: Lexical Bundles in University Teaching and Textbooks. Applied Linguistics 25, Cortes, V Lexical Bundles in Published and Student Writing in History and Biology. English for Specific Purposes 23 (4), Cortes, V A Comparative Analysis of Lexical Bundles in Academic History Writing in English and Spanish. Corpora 3 (1), De Cock, S Preferred Sequences of Words in NS and NNS Speech. BELL (Belgian journal of English language and literature), Granger, S. 1998b. Prefabricated patterns in advanced EFL writing: collocations and formulae. A. P. Cowie (ed.) Phraseology. Theory, Analysis, And Applications. Oxford: Clarendon

22 References Hasselgård, H Thematic choice and expressions of stance in English argumentative texts by Norwegian learners. K. Aijmer (ed.) Corpora and Language Teaching. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company Herriman, J. & M. Boström Aronsson Themes in Swedish advanced learner writing in English. K. Aijmer (ed.) Corpora and Language Teaching. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company Hyland, K As Can Be Seen: Lexical Bundles and Disciplinary Variation. English for Specific Purposes (27) Hunston, S The usefulness of corpus-based descriptions of English for learners. K. Aijmer (ed.) Corpora and Language Teaching. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company Hunston, S. & G. Francis Pattern Grammar: A Corpus-driven Approach to the Lexical Grammar of English. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.


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