Academic journal article Journal of Social Sciences

Contrastive Analysis of Stretched Collocations with Get and Take: Their Use and Pedagogical Implications

Academic journal article Journal of Social Sciences

Contrastive Analysis of Stretched Collocations with Get and Take: Their Use and Pedagogical Implications

Article excerpt

Abstract: This paper explores the pedagogical implications of contrastive analyses of light verb constructions containing get and take in English and Spanish based on electronic corpora, the British National Corpus (BNC) and the Corpus de Referencia del Español Actual (CREA). The main tenets of collocations from a contrastive perspective-and the points of contact and departure between both languages-are discussed prior to examining the commonest types of verb+ noun combinations (i.e., take a bath, take advantage of), verb+ adjective (i.e. get ready, get worse, get angry), verb+ participle (i.e., get married, get dressed) as significant cases of so-called "light", "empty", "thin", "stretched" or "support" verbs. A quantitative and qualitative-oriented case study is accordingly conducted, determining the weight of get and take in stretched collocations in the BNC and of the Spanish equivalent verbs constructions within the CREA. Based on empirical data obtained this way, this paper provides relevant insights for more accurate translations, helping to enhance the collocational competence of L2 students, who tend to avoid constructions including empty verbs in favour of full verb forms. The findings in this study shed light on the potential of corpora resources for improving the collocational usage of foreign-language learners, as quantitative and qualitative comparisons of collocations serve to highlight the similarities and, more importantly, the lexical, cognitive and typological differences between these phraseological constructions in the two languages, thereby substantiating the very useful role that corpus analysis may play for language teaching in general and for collocational knowledge and proficiency in particular.

Keywords: Collocations, Light Verb Constructions, Translation, Teaching Phraseology


Stretched Collocations at the Crossroads in English and Spanish Phraseology

Phraseology is definitely concerned with the study of those chunks which, be they collocations or idioms, constitute some crucial cognitive, textual and pragmatic tools to be mastered by the language learner. As Sokolik (2001: 487) underlines in her overview of Computer- Assisted Language Learning (CALL), "corpus linguistics and concordancing can help provide the data and tools that students and instructors need to make sense out of usage". CALL applications and phraseology may thus provide invaluable resources for the student's knowledge of multiword units such as delexicalized verb constructions. These semi-compositional verb-noun constructions have been investigated under various labels in the different linguistic traditions. Other terms that are in use to denominate such constructions, parts of them, or a superset of semi-compositional expressions which will be used in this study are light verbs, operator verbs, complex predicates, support verb constructions and others. There is no consensus among the authors about what structures are admissible and different studies investigate non-identical structures. Despite this proviso, in English linguistics, the common ground is that the structures should be non-compositional and consist of a semantically low-content, inflected verb and a predicate noun (Nickel, 1968; Wierzbicka, 1982).

Prior to undertaking a detailed case study exploring this phenomenon and its implications for language learning, some remarks will be made on CALL, phraseology and their interface.

CALL and its Role in Improving L2 Learning

CALL has become a new, but well-established, scholarly domain researching the pedagogical possibilities provided by computers and the Internet for increasing language learners' communicative skills (Warschauer and Kern, 2000; Warschauer, 2001; Blake, 2001; Davies, 2002; Godwin-Jones, 2005; Oster et al., 2006). CALL may be broadly defined as "any process in which a learner uses a computer and, as a result, improves his or her language" (Beatty, 2003: 248). …

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