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Title: Lexical intuitions and collocation patterns in corpora
Author: McGee, Iain David
ISNI:       0000 0004 2749 4418
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2006
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Language teachers are often called upon by their students to provide examples of vocabulary usage in the classroom. Drawing on their experience of language, these teachers model lexical combinations and collocations, not only in their classes, but also in materials writing. However, corpus linguists have claimed that native speaker intuitions about the typical collocates of words are not reliable, because they do not align with the patterns observed in large corpora. These claims are critically evaluated, and an alternative explanation for the mismatch, the possibility that the corpora might not be representative of actual language in use, is also examined. Various linguistic and psycholinguistic explanations for the disparity between corpus data and elicited data are examined, and theories dealing with the mental representation of collocations are also discussed. Data from word frequency estimate research, and word association research are also analysed for relevant information on the subject. Five experiments are then reported, investigating the ability of native speakers (students and EFL teachers) and non- native speakers (Arab university teachers) to rank, recognize and spontaneously produce frequent adjective-noun collocations. The results indicate that a key factor affecting the 'quality' of lexical intuitions may be the employment of an 'availability heuristic' in judgements of frequency. It is argued that some collocates of words may be more hidden from memory searches than others, and that there may be a systematic bias in the respondants' lexical intuitions based on how words are stored in the mental lexicon. Conclusions are drawn that reflect the many facets of research relevant to the questions under discussion: corpus linguistics, frequency theory, word association research, learning theory and theories of lexical storage. The thesis ends in applying some of the key findings to language teachers.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available