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Book Sections Year : 1996

Science as a collocation. Phraseology in cancer research articles


English for Specific Purposes (ESP) is a specialist area of language teaching research that should benefit from corpus linguistics. Theory from corpus linguistics, such as the idiom principle (Sinclair 1987) can provide a powerful challenge to the intuitive areas of language use that have traditionally been of concern in the ESP syllabus (Sager et al. 1990). This paper marries a major theoretical backbone of ESP, the ethnographic approach of genre analysis (Swales 1990) to the large scale computational analysis of phraseology in a representative corpus. The hypothesis explored in this paper is that written science is founded on a system of preferred expressions, and that collocation is a fundamental mechanism that allows for new formulations to take place throughout the text. On the basis of Johns and King's (1990) and Barlow's' (forthcoming) work on corpus-driven learning, I argue here that ESP is enhanced by an increased awareness of prototypical patterns and from the fact that deviation from the pattern is a key dynamic mechanism for the genre. Science is increasingly no longer seen as a body of facts transmitted via language, but as a special linguistic construct, mediated by the mechanisms of textual reformulation and phraseological innovation. Students of science should be aware of this process, and should be able to exploit the computational characterisation of normal expressions, that is: prototypes or 'preferred ways of saying things'. Putting it simply, new collocations are new scientific ideas, and knowing what constitutes a new collocation is a fundamental process in the acquisition of an ESP.


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hal-01220426 , version 1 (27-05-2021)


  • HAL Id : hal-01220426 , version 1


Christopher Gledhill. Science as a collocation. Phraseology in cancer research articles. S. Botley; J. Glass; T. McEnery; A. Wilson. UCREL Technical Papers, 9, pp.108-126, 1996. ⟨hal-01220426⟩
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