The phraseology of phrasal verbs in English: a corpus study of the language of Chinese learners and native English writers

Ke, Yushan (2014). The phraseology of phrasal verbs in English: a corpus study of the language of Chinese learners and native English writers. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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The aim of this study is to supplement existing research on phraseology in learner language by exploring the behaviours of phrasal verbs, a notorious hurdle for learners of English.

This thesis compares a Chinese learner corpus (CLEC) with an English native speakers’ corpus (LOCNESS), with a reference corpus, the Bank of English (BoE), being consulted where necessary. A series of quantitative and qualitative investigations are conducted on phrasal verbs: calculation of frequency distribution and type-token ratios; identification of phraseological information, including collocation, semantic preference, semantic sequence and prosody. The results are discussed in full. Additionally, a framework utilising degrees of idiomaticity and restriction strength to group phrasal verbs is proposed and the issue of distinguishing synonymous counterparts is tackled as well.

The results generally indicate that Chinese learner language tends to have more phrasal verb tokens but fewer types than written native speaker English does. Detailed case studies of phrasal verbs show, however, that the phraseological behaviours of phrasal verbs as used by learners are so individualised that the findings are mixed. Learner uses are characterised by idiosyncrasies of different phraseological units, suggesting that the links (between lexis and lexis, or lexis and concepts) in the lexicon of L2 are different from those in L1.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, Department of English Literature
Funders: Other
Other Funders: Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics


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