Tag Archives: Corpus Linguistics

Writing with Attitude: A Review of a Corpus-Driven Analysis of Stance Expression in Learner and Professional Dentistry Research Reports (Published)

It is universally acknowledged that academia requires certain professional standards when it comes to writing, and because not all disciplines focus on teaching and learning English for Specific Purposes (ESP), some writing pieces do not make sense or create a meaningful purpose for the readers. Medical students, for instance, are a good example of this stated argument, as most of them often lack the proper skills required for academic writing. It is of paramount importance to know how to write proper, academic English since academic writing is mainly offered as a pre-requisite or a ticket to any employment, promotion and/or enculturation to the profession. Little attention has been given to medical research reports as well as stance-making and writing with attitude in the medical prose. Luckily, this paper aims at reviewing an article mainly focusing on the dentistry discipline, and how dentistry undergraduates often struggle whenever it comes to writing in this research genre. The article being reviewed is by Peter Crosthwaite, Lisa Cheung, and Feng (Kevin) Jiang entitled, “Writing with attitude: Stance expression in learner and professional dentistry research reports.” It has been published in the Journal of English for Specific Purposes by Elsevier publications, and was officially available online on March 4th, 2017. Using a corpus-driven approach, this study highlights how both undergraduate students of dentistry and professional practitioners epistemologically and rhetorically display the findings of their written reports and how the meta-discourse used for these functions emphasizes students’ awareness and engagement with disciplinary specificity of writing in dentistry. It explores how writers express themselves and their professional thoughts in their research reports. Such expressions include stance in academic writing, evidentiality, attitude, and presence, as well as more focus on enculturation into the profession; as in English in the dentistry discipline.

Keywords: Corpus Linguistics, English for Specific purposes, contrastive interlanguage analysis, dentistry, learner corpus, review paper, stance expressions

Explicating the Complexity of Phrasal Verbs: The Task of Corpus Linguistics (Published)

Phrasal verb is one of the complex vocabulary types in English which English as Second Language learners find difficult to master due to its idiomaticity. The focus of this study is to investigate the relationship that exists between the phrasal verbs presented in senior high school (SHS) students’ course books and those that are found in real contexts of usage (corpus). The study is a corpus-based study as it seeks to explore an existing corpus to substantiate an assertion (Tognini-Bonelli, 2001). Accordingly, a reference corpus is the basis for the comparison. Apart from finding the relationship between the two sets of data, the distribution of the phrasal verbs in the senior high school course books is critically assessed. The data was a secondary one: SHS students’ course books and the British National Corpus (BNC). The data is quantitatively analysed with little qualitative analysis, and the results, thematically presented. The findings indicate that there is a huge disparity in terms of number and composition of phrasal verbs in the two sets of data (SHS course books and the British National Corpus). The topic is under-presented in the course books and thus, a probable reason for students’ abysmal performance on the topic and in the subject in general. Aside from that, the presentation of the concept in the students’ course books does not facilitate learning since they are presented in out-of-context instances.  The recommendations made are that corpora should be indirectly used (be the basis of course book materials) for teaching the concept and the subject as a whole since it presents authentic language usages which make learning meaningful and useful. Teachers of English ought to be abreast of corpora usages in order for them to explore them and use them as reference material for their teaching. 

Keywords: Corpus Linguistics, language teaching and learning, phrasal verbs

Archaisms In Legal Contracts- A Corpus-Based Analysis (Published)

Language is particularly significant in law because it is through it that law finds expression. From formulation to interpretation and enforcement, law exclusively depends on language. Legal contract is notorious for formalities and unchanging nature, especially with the use of archaic words and formulaic expressions is an important genre of legal English. Although the formalities afford lawyers opportunity to achieve “precision”, they constitute a serious challenge for the layman. This study examined the frequency, structure, and meaning of archaisms to argue that the elements are operational tools in legal contracts. The data for the study were derived from ten purposively sampled legal contracts (scanned and converted to electronic-version) of about 7116 words of the Akure Judicial Division of Ondo State Nigeria. With corpus linguistics methodologies, using register analysis within the purview of Systemic Functional Grammar, the study adopted the content analysis methodology to identify archaisms in the legal contracts, and to quantitatively and qualitatively analysis the data. The study found 20 archaisms of 4 categories occurring 187 times (2.6%) of the total number of words to justify the  claim that archaisms, which are no more found in general English usage, are still very much in use in legal documents, especially contracts. This study concluded that archaisms which according to lawyers, are used to lend a touch of formality and precision to legal language, should give way to modern words which can serve both lawyers’ and non-lawyers’ needs.

Keywords: Archaisms, Content analysis, Corpus Linguistics, Language, Legal Contract, Register Analysis

Discourse Pointing Devices in Newspaper Editorials (Published)

Deixis (the use of this, that and other pointing devices) in English has its discursive and referential values which are determined by the context of situation. In this study, I examined the use of the (English) deixis, as a discourse pointing device, to argue that the language situation in operation, could determine deictic usage. Using corpus linguistics methodologies, the study purposively sampled three consecutive months’ editions (January 1– March 31, 2017) of four online newspaper editorials from: Canada, Jamaica, Nigeria and the UK, where different language situations exist. In analysing the data, the newspaper editorials corpus was subjected to AntConc Concordance Tool, to identify and classify the deictic markers into types and through simple statistics determined the frequency of use on paper and country bases to show variation (if any). The major significance of the study is to help in understanding the working of language in its environment of operation and in presupposing the usage of language in the different contexts of situations.

Keywords: Corpus Linguistics, Deixis, Discourse Pointing, Editorial, context of situation

Conflicts as Causes to Change News Foci Frequency Analysis for Asharq Al-Awsat and Al-Khaleej Newspapers Before and After the Arab Spring (Published)

The Arab Media, both pan-Arab and national, have helped people in the Arab world to achieve a greater amount of freedom and liberty in the last two decades. This was observed in 2011, when the Arab region witnessed a series of revolutions and protests that not only affected the Middle East and North Africa, but also the whole world. This study uses a new 19.5-million word corpus of newspaper articles published between 2009 and 2013 to examine the main discussed themes in Asharq Al-Awsat (a pan-Arab newspaper) and Al-Khaleej (a UAE national newspaper). Using the corpus linguistic technique of frequency, this study shows that the focus of the two newspapers in 2011, the year when most of the protests began and ended, was similar in spite of the differences in their agendas and policies. This study concludes that the occurrence of an event that affects most of the Arab countries has an impact on the type and style of Arab national newspaper coverage.

Keywords: Corpus Linguistics, Newspapers, frequency analysis, the Arab Spring, the Arabic language