Learners' and native speakers' use of recurrent word-combinations across disciplines
Keywords:n-grams, recurrent word combinations, academic writing, disciplinary variation, functional analysis, Norwegian learners of English
AbstractThis paper compares the use of recurrent word-combinations (n-grams) in texts produced by Norwegian learners of English and native speakers of English in two academic disciplines, namely linguistics and business. The study explores the extent to which the same n-grams are used by learners and native speakers in the two disciplines. Using an adapted version of Moon's (1998) functional framework, we map the functions of the n-grams, distinguishing between three major functions: ideational/informational, interpersonal and textual. The ngrams are extracted from the VESPA and BAWE corpora, representing learner and native language, respectively. The data reveal a complex picture. Informational n-grams are by far the most frequent type and they seem to be not only discipline-specific, but also topic-specific. There are more n-grams with an interpersonal function (evaluative and modalizing) in the linguistics than in the business discipline. Frequencies of n-grams with a textual/organizational function are more similar across the material. However, there is relatively little overlap in the use of individual n-grams with interpersonal and textual functions across the L1 groups. There is a higher degree of similarity between learners and native speakers in the linguistics discipline than in the business discipline. On the other hand, there is some similarity across disciplines within L1 groups as regards interpersonal and textual n-grams.
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