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Original scientific paper

How word choice matters: An analysis of adjective-noun collocations in a corpus of learner essays

Višnja Pavičić Takač orcid id ; Filozofski fakultet u Osijeku
Morana Lukač ; Leiden University

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Foreign language learners’ choice of collocations is traditionally considered to be one of the main markers of foreignlanguageness (Korosadowitz-Struzynska 1980: 115), hence relevant in achieving a high degree of competence in the target language. In this study we analyse the Croatian Corpus of English Learner Essays (CELE), which consists of 298 argumentative essays written as part of the state school-leaving exam. The corpus, consisting of over 74k tokens was collected in 10 different counties, and the essays were produced in 2010 and 2011. The learner’s use of adjective-noun collocations is compared against both findings from a native speaker corpus (BNC) and a corpus of learner English (ICLE). Instead of viewing learner usage of collocations as deficient, the claims about the overuse and the underuse of statistically significant collocations are made on the basis of joint findings from the BNC and the ICLE. This approach demonstrates how native speaker data can be used for comparison, without being the norm against which the learner data should be measured, and, on the other hand, how other learner data can help distinguish between general characteristics of learner language and L1-transfer.


collocations, adjective-noun, non-native speakers, English as a foreign language, corpus analysis, BNC, ICLE, CELE

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Article data in other languages: croatian

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