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On the phraseology of Chinese learner spoken English: Evidence of lexical chunks from COLSEC

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Chapter Summary

Many previous theory-driven studies of phraseology basically focus on fixed and semi-fixed expressions which are structurally well-formed and semantically idiomatic. Altenberg (1998) is a landmark study of phraseology in a corpus-driven research paradigm, which tackles a much wider range of lexical sequences displaying complex structural and functional characteristics. The present paper, adopting Altenberg (1998) as a major referential framework, sets out to describe and discuss the structures and functions of lexical chunks in the Chinese Learners Spoken English Corpus, with a view to characterizing the phraseological features of Chinese learner spoken English. The learner chunks are treated within three major structural categories, full clauses, clause constituents and incomplete phrases, within which pragmatic functions are categorized and examined. The paper concentrates on discrepancies and differences between learner and native speaker phraseologies. It has been found that, although the overall data distributions across major structural types show a similar tendency in the two sets of data, learners tend to use different chunks from native speakers for given meanings and functions. The study also reveals that learners more frequently use more types of recurrent sequences largely associated with the making of propositions, whilst using far fewer chunks (and using them much less frequently) which are basically associated with pragmatic functions. On the other hand, the learner interlanguage has developed its own characteristic ways of realizing pragmatic meanings, with specific unique evaluative chunks occurring frequently in a given situation. The paper also addresses the implications for second language acquisition research and second language pedagogy.



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