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Grammatical collocation


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A Study of Grammatical Collocation
by Parisa Farrokh

Islamic Azad University, Lahijan, Iran

Published in: Education, Technology

Grammatical collocation

  1. 1. 1
  2. 2. International Conference on Language, Literature and Culture 2
  3. 3. THE STUDY OF GRAMMATICAL COLLOCATION A SURVEY OF AZERBAIJANIAN ENGLISH LEARNERS KNOWLEDGE OF COLLOCATION OF PREPOSITIONS Parisa Farrokh English Translation Department, Lahijan Branch, Islamic Azad University, Lahijan, Lahijan, Iran 3
  4. 4. AbstractThis paper has a two fold purpose.First to survey differentlinguistic attitudes toward the phenomenon of collocationand its categorization as well as to emphasize the role ofgrammatical collocation in the process of second languagelearning.Second the present study aims to find out theAzerbaijanian English learners‘ knowledge of collocationof prepositions based on Benson et al s categorization .Since preposition is not used in Azeri, therefore the resultsof this study may be used as additional information for theteachers especially in teaching English grammar andtranslation courses. 4
  5. 5. Also, the results may help Azerbaijaniantranslators, English learners and translatortrainees for being able to provide the besttranslation of English collocation ofprepositions. In Benson et als category thecollocation divided into two main groups: lexicaland grammatical collocations. Each groupsubdivided into different collocations of noun ,verb,adjective, adverb and preposition. Collocation ofprepositions subcategorized in grammaticalcollocation and consists of four collocations :verb+preposition, noun+ preposition, adjective+preposition and preposition+noun.30 junior English preposition+noun.30learners of Azerbaijan University of Foreign 5Languages participated in this experiment.
  6. 6. They were selected from 50 students who participated inan OPT general proficiency test. To conduct the presentstudy, a completion multiple choice test involves 40questions ,10 questions for each collocation, was given tothe students .Atotal of 1010 collocational errors wasfound.287errors related to verb+preposition,275 errorsrelated to preposition+noun,230 errors related to noun+preposition and 200 errors related to adjective+preposition. Based on the findings of this research, theerrors of collocation of prepositions resulted either fromignorance of rule restrictions or interlingual transfer.KeyWords: collocation, grammatical collocation,preposition ,collocation of prepositions, 6
  7. 7. Introduction Although it is generally accepted that collocations are both indispensable and at the same time problematic for foreign language learners and especially for adult learners, learners’ difficulties with collocations have not been investigated in detail by EFL practitioners so far (Nesselhauf, 2003). They therefore should Nesselhauf, 2003) play an important role in second or foreign language acquisition . 7
  8. 8. The aim of this research is the investigation ofcollocation, grammatical collocation andAzerbaijanian English learners‘ knowledge ofcollocation of prepositions based on Benson etals categorization. categorization.In this relation ,the research questions have beenformulated as follows:do Azerbaijanian English follows:learners have problem in collocation ofprepositions?what are the most frequent errorsof collocation of prepositions?what is/are themain source(s) of errors of collocation ofprepositions? 8
  9. 9. The following gives a general review of theliterature related to English collocation. First of collocation.all, the notion of collocation that was introducedby different scholars is reviewed. In addition, the reviewed.scholars’ viewpoints about the differencesbetween collocation and other wordcombinations were reviewed, too. After that, the too.types of collocations classified by differentresearchers are investigated. Last, the study on investigated.Azerbaijanian English learners knowledge ofcollocation of prepositions and the sources oferrors of collocation of prepositions werediscussed.discussed. 9
  10. 10. Notion of CollocationCollocation, originated from the field of lexicon studies, is a term defined and understood in many different ways (Bahns, 1993). Generally, Bahns, 1993) there were two different sides of assertions about this term. One of them argued that collocation term. was related to meaning; the other argued that meaning; collocation was not a semantic relation between words. words. 10
  11. 11. The literature reviews related to the two assertions were arranged in this section.On the one hand, section. for the assertion that collocation was concerning meaning, J. R.Firth has been regarded as the one responsible for bringing the term into prominence in the field of lexicon study (Carter &McCarthy, 1988; Hill, 2000). In Firths view, 1988; 2000) the meaning of a word should be known by the company it keeps (Hill, 2000). In other words, 2000) collocation was about the meaning of a word and about its relationship with other words (Hill, 2000) 2000). 11
  12. 12. Such a notion about collocation is often appliedto the subsequent research related to collocation. collocation.Similar to McIntosh (1961) and Palmer (1976), 1961) 1976),Bolinger and Sears (1981) also mentioned that 1981)the ranges and variety of collocations wereenormous.enormous. They regarded collocation as a kindof habitual association of words and assertedthat collocations resulted from native speakersexperiences of the expressions repeated againand again in certain given circumstances. circumstances. 12
  13. 13. Therefore, depending on the context, thecollocations, like good chance, high probability,and strong likelihood, might be consideredacceptable, but the collocations like strongchance, good probability, and highlikelihood, unacceptable. Sinclair (1966), in a (1966),volume of papers in memory of J. R. Firth,showed an interest in generating lexical sets bythe use of collocation. For Sinclair, grammar andlexis were two different aspects. 13
  14. 14. Grammar could be described by structures(syntagms) and systems (paradigms), while lexis syntagms)was about lexical items collocating with oneanother—collocationsanother— and setsrespectively.respectively.According to Sinclair, collocationwas referred to as the co-occurrence of two co-words, but this co-occurrence was not indicative co-of two words occurring as a small fixedgrammatical set. Instead, it had two important set.features.features.First, there might be several or many wordsbetween the two relevant items or the tworelevant items might even occur over sentenceboundaries.boundaries. 14
  15. 15. Second, collocation was independent of grammatical types. types. In other words, collocation was not analyzed by grammatical structures. The examples “he structures. argued strongly,” “the strength of his argument,” “his argument was strengthened” (Carter & McCarthy, 1988, p. 35) illustrate a constant 1988, 35) relationship between the two words. On the other words. hand, however, some researchers held different views from the above scholars opinions. For opinions. example, McCarthy (1991) argued that the notion 1991) of collocation was made use of as a kind of cohesive device. device. 15
  16. 16. He claimed that "collocation refers to theprobability that lexical items will co-occur, and is co-not a semantic relation between words." (p. 65). words. (p. 65)Such opinion suggested that collocation servedother function besides meaning in sentences. sentences.Another instance was Aghbars (1990) 1990)proclamation.proclamation.He proposed that the notion ofcollocation was not raised creatively for the firsttime;time; in fact, people had a memory of havingheard or seen these constructions before andused them as such. such. 16
  17. 17. Collocation and OtherCombination of WordsWords can be combined in numerous ways to form meaningful thought groups if those words not restricted. restricted. That is what makes it hard to clarify the notion of collocation. Among these possible collocation. combinations of words, some are fixed and others are more loose. loose. 17
  18. 18. In order to attain a clearer understanding of collocation, it is necessary to draw a distinction among collocations, idioms, and other kinds of word combinations (Bahns, 1993; Wang, 2001; Bahns, 1993; 2001; Wu, 1996), though these combinations are quite 1996), similar to one another, even, in a sense, belonging to the category of collection. Wood collection. (1981) adopted both semantic and syntactic 1981) criteria for distinguishing collocations from idioms, colligations, and free combinations. In combinations. Woods point of view, an idiom was fully non- non- compositional and non-productive, while a free non- combination was fully compositional and productive. productive. 18
  19. 19. . However, Woods interpretation about collocation and colligation is still rather vague. On the other hand, a collocation, as Nattinger and DeCarrico (1992) suggested, with its meaning in a restricted sense, was less frozen than an idiom, and a colligation was compositional and permitted only limited lexical variation. Lewis(2000) had far more explanation to differentiate collocation from colligation. 19
  20. 20. Collocation is the way one word co-occurs with co- another word, colligation is the way one word regularly co-occurs with a particular (grammar) co- pattern, so, for example some verbs typically occur with a particular tense, or a noun might typically appear preceded by a personal pronoun, rather than an article (pass my/your driving test, Its my/your/our responsibility to..., but Ill take the responsibility for...) (p. 137) 137) Benson, Benson, and Ilson (1986b) 1986b) distinguished collocations from other combinations of words--compounds, idioms, words--compounds, transitional combinations (transitional collocations), and free combinations.. 20
  21. 21. The following are the summaries of the five types of word combinations, which are listed from the most fixed combination to the freest one proposed by Benson (1989) and Benson et al. 1989) al. (1986b). 1986b). 21
  22. 22. 1. Compounds, the most fixed word combination, are completely frozen, and no variations at all were possible. The instances of nominal possible. compounds are like “floppy disk” and “aptitude test”, and an illustration of compound verb (or phrasal verb) is break through”. through”.2. Idioms referred to relatively frozen expressions whose meanings did not reflect the meanings of their component parts. The illustrations of parts. idioms were to “kill two birds with one stone”, “to kick the bucket”, “to spill .the beans”, and so on. on. 22
  23. 23. 3. Transitional combinations (transitional collocations), whose meanings were close to their component parts, were regarded as more frozen and less variable than collocations. collocations. Instances of such were “for old times sake”, “the facts of life”, “to be in a tight spot”, and the like. like.4. Collocations were loosely fixed, arbitrary recurrent word combinations and the meaning of the whole did reflect the meaning of the parts. parts. “Pure chance”, “to commit murder”, “close attention”, and “keen competition” shared the features of this category. category. 23
  24. 24. 5. Free combinations were taken as the least cohesive of all combinations. Their components were the freest in regard to being combined with other lexical items.The typical combinations of this sort were “to recall an adventure” (an event, an accident) and “to analyze” (report, investigate) a murder. 24
  25. 25. Echoing what Benson et al. (1986b) attested, al. 1986b) Bahns (1993) also admitted that different from 1993) idioms, the main characteristics of collocations were that their meanings reflected the meaning of their constituent parts, and that, in comparison with free combination, they were used frequently, sprang to mind readily, and were psychologically salient. In other words, salient. there are "transitional areas" (Cruse, 1986, p. 41 1986, between free combinations and collocations, and between collocations and idioms). idioms). 25
  26. 26. The Classification of CollocationsWhen it comes to the classification of collocation, Benson et al.s (1986a) has been second to none al. 1986a) so far (Liu, 1999a, Tsai, 1996). Much collocation 1999a, 1996) research (Bahns 1993;Chang, 1997; Liu, 1999a, 1993; 1997; 1999a, 1999b, 2000a 1999b, 2000a; Wang, 2001) was conducted by 2001) using what Benson et al. advocated about al. collocation. collocation. 26
  27. 27. According to Benson et al., collocation could besorted systematically into two major groups-- groups--lexical collocations and grammaticalcollocations. A lexical collocation could be madeup of nouns, adjectives, verbs, or adverbs, like“warmest regards”, “strictly accurate”, and etc.There were seven types of lexical collocations,labeled from a to g, whose structures andexamples were given below. 27
  28. 28. Lexical Collocations Adapted from Benson et al. (1986a) al. 1986a) a.verb (donating creation or activation)+ noun (pronoun or prep. phrase) prep. compose music; make an impression; music; impression; b. verb (meaning eradication or nullification)+ noun revoke a license; demolish a house license; c. adjective + noun 28
  29. 29. strong tea; a rough estimate tea;d. noun + verbbees buzz; bombs explode buzz;e. noun1 of noun2 noun1 noun2a pack of dogs; a herd of buffalo dogs;a herd of buffalof.adjective + adverb/ adverb + adjectivesound asleep; hopelessly addicted asleep;g. verb + adverbanchor firmly; argue heatedly firmly; 29
  30. 30. On the other hand, a grammatical collocation was made up of a dominant word,such as a noun, an adjective, or a verb, and a preposition or grammatical structure like an infinitive or a clause. clause. Benson et al. (1986a) further categorized al. 1986a) the grammatical collocations into eight small groups, marked as G1 to G8, among which, G8 collocations contained nineteen English verb patterns. patterns. To make the types clear, the researcher of the present study has listed the structures and examples of grammatical collocations here. here. 30
  31. 31. G1 noun + preposition ; Apathy towardG2 noun + to inf. inf. He was a fool todo it. it.G3 noun + that clause He took anoath that he would do his duty. duty.G4 preposition + noun; noun; in advance; at advance;anchorG5 adjective + preposition They are afraidof him. him.G6 predicate adjective +to inf. inf. It was stupidfor them to go. go.G7 adjective + that clause She was afraidthat she would fail the exam. exam. 31
  32. 32. G8There are 19 patterns in G8: svo to o (or) svooHe sent a book to his brother. He sent his brother brother. abook svo to o They described the book to her. her. svo for o (or) svooShe bought a shirt for her husband. She bought husband. her husband a shirt. shirt. sv prep. o (or) svo prep. O prep. prep.He came by train .We invited them to the meeting. meeting. 32
  33. 33. Sv to inf. inf. They began to speak sv inf. inf. He had better go. go. svv-ing svv- They enjoy watching television. svo to inf. She asks me to come. svo inf. She heard them leave. svov- svov-ing I caught them stealing apples. 33
  34. 34. sv possessive v-ing v- Please excuse mywaking you so that-clausesv(o) that- They admittedthat they were wrong.svo to be c We consider herto be very capable.Svoc She dyed her hairred.svoo We bet her tenpounds. 34
  35. 35. sv(o)adverbial sv(o)adverbial He carried himself well. sv(o) wh-word sv(o) wh- He wants what I want. s(it) vo to inf. (or) s(it) vo that-clause that-It surprised me to learn of her decision. It surprised me that our offer was rejected. svc (adjective or noun)She was enthusiastic. The flowers smell nice 35
  36. 36. Sinclair (1991) divided collocation into two kinds-- 1991) kinds-- downward collocation and upward collocation. collocation. Different from Benson et al., Sinclair made use al. of two terms to classify collocations. One was the collocations. term "node," which was employed to stand for the word studied; the other was the term studied; "collocate," used to represent any word occurring in the specified environment of a node. node. Based on Sinclairs assertment, when A was assertment, "node" and B was "collocate"--collocation of A "collocate"--collocation with a less frequent word B, it was called downward collocation, which contributed to a semantic analysis of a word. word. 36
  37. 37. The examples of this type were “advantage over”, “afraid of”, “attitude toward”, and etc. In etc. contrast, when B was "node" and A was "collocate," it was called upward collocation. The collocation. examples of this type were “on purpose”, “by accident”, “with caution”, etc. In this kind of etc. collocation, “the words tended to be elements of grammatical frames, or superordinates"(p. 116). superordinates"(p. 116) 37
  38. 38. Similar to Benson et al. (1986a), Lewis (2000) al. 1986a), 2000) listed different types of collocations that were found regularly together if collocation was defined as the way words occurred together. together. More types beyond Benson et al.s classification al. were seen in his list. The researcher of the list. current study has rearranged them from the collocations related to nouns (from 1 to 8) to other types of collocations. collocations. 38
  39. 39. 1. adjective + noun: a difficult decision2. verb + noun: submit a report3. noun + noun: radio station4. verb + adjective + noun: revise the originalplan5. compound noun: fire escape6. binomial: backwards and forwards7. trinomial: hook, line and sinker8. noun + verb: the fog closed in9. verb + adverb: examine thoroughly10. adverb + adjective: extremely inconvenient10. 39
  40. 40. 11. discourse marker: To put it another way11.12. multi-word prepositional phrase a few years12. multi-ago13. phrasal verb: turn in13.14. adjective + preposition: aware of ....14.15. fixed phrase: On the other hand ....15.16. incomplete fixed phrase: A sort of ....16.17. fixed expression: Not half!17.18. semi-fixed expression: See you18. semi-later/tomorrow/on Monday.19. part of a proverb: Too many cooks ....19.20. part of a quotation: To be or not to be .... (pp.20.133-134)133-134) 40
  41. 41. Collocation of prepositions Prepositions are generally troublesome to the learners for whom English is a foreign/second language (Ellis 1986, p.57). Boers and Frank 1986, p.57). (1998, p.42) argue that prepositions are difficult 1998, p.42) for ESL/EFL learners because they have literal as well as figurative meanings. Jimenez Catalan (1996, p.174) claims that Spanish students have 1996, p.174) difficulty with mastering English prepositions. Jabbour- Jabbour-Lagocki (1990, p.162) believes that 1990, p.162) English prepositions are notoriously difficult for ESL/EFL learners to master because of L1L1 interference. 41
  42. 42. For native speakers, prepositions present little difficulty, but for a foreign/second language learner they are confusing and largely problematic. For instance, saying, we are at the hospital; hospital; or we visit a friend who is in the hospital. hospital. We lie in bed but on the couch. We couch. watch a film at the theater but on television. All these indicating that prepositions have strong collocational relations with other elements of language, and thus they are problematic for the EFL learners. 42
  43. 43. Both the conventional approaches (such as Grammar Translation Method) and the modern approaches (such as Communicative approach) to SLA have in different ways underplayed the role of collocations. Shei and Helen (2000) (2000) believe that collocations have been largely neglected by researchers, course designers and EFL practitioners. The importance of prepositions and their collocational properties on the one hand for the non-native learners of non- English, and the problems that EFL students have with collocation of prepositions on the other hand, highlight the significance of the present study. 43
  44. 44. Furthermore, there is an abundant stock of phrasal and prepositional combinations in English that represent innumerable collocations, and the mastery over them and their collocational power can affect Azerbaijanian English learners fluency as well as accuracy in both speaking and writing .As mentioned earlier,in this research the study of collocation of prepositions has been done based on Benson et als classification,i. classification,i.e.collocations of verb+preposition,noun+preposition,adjective+p reposition and preposition+noun. preposition+noun. 44
  45. 45. Research MethodologyThe purpose of this study is to show the most frequent errors of Azerbaijanian English learners in collocation of prepositions. This research deals with collocation of prepositions according to Benson et al s classification divided into four main collocations:verb+ preposition, noun+ preposition, adjective+ preposition and preposition+ noun. 45
  46. 46. ParticipantsThe participants of the study were 30 junior English learners of Azerbaijan University of Foreign Languages participated in this experiment. They were selected from 50 students who participated in an OPT general proficiency test. All of them have passed grammar ,reading and the principle of translation courses. 46
  47. 47. MaterialsTo conduct the present study, a completion multiple choice test involves 40 questions ,10 questions for each collocation,was given to the students. Collocations taken students. from Oxford collocations dictionary. dictionary. 47
  48. 48. Procedures As it was already mentioned, participants of this study, were selected from among 50 students who participated in an OPT (Oxford Placement Test) general proficiency test. Their scores were below test. the average (below 50). 40 multiple choice 50) questions were given to them .the following general patterns of collocation of prepositions have been used: used: 48
  49. 49. 1. verb + preposition collocation: consist of, collocation: insist on, indulge in, resist in2. noun + preposition collocation: motivation in, admiration for, argument about3. adjective + preposition collocation: good at ,bored with, superior to, tired of4. preposition + noun collocation: inastonishment, with embezzlement, oncredit, 49
  50. 50. Data analysis and resultsBased on the results of this research, a total number of 1010 errors of collocation of prepositions has been obtained. 287errors 287errors of verb+preposition found in this research,errors such as “ glance out” instead of“ glance at”. Regarding the errors of preposition+noun 275 errors obtained ,errors like “with air” instead of “by air”. In this research , errors related to noun+preposition collocation were 230errors, 230errors, for example choosing “sympathy on” instead of “sympathy for”. 2oo errors of adjective+ preposition found in this paper, errors like “good50 in” instead of “good at”.(table1). at”.(table1
  51. 51. Discussion and conclusionBased on the results of this study, it was found that the Azerbaijanian English learners have problems in using English collocation of prepositions. prepositions. The more frequent errors are verb+ preposition collocations, preposition +noun, noun+ preposition and adjective+ preposition respectively. respectively. Regarding the source of students errors, it can be concluded that ignorance of rule restrictions that is resulted from analogy and failure to observe the restrictions of existing structures were at times the reasons why students produced unacceptable collocations. collocations. 51
  52. 52. Some examples of this type of error are: “wearrived in the hotel” instead of “we arrived atthe hotel”, “we lost with five goals to two”instead of “we lost by five goals to two”(verb+preposition), “I picked up the wrong bag inmistake” instead of “ I picked up the wrong bagby mistake”, “The man is now on the arrest”instead of “The man is now underarrest”(preposition+noun),arrest”(preposition+noun), 52
  53. 53. “He made a feeble attempt in a smile” instead of “He made a feeble attempt at a smile”,“He is a good judge for musical talent” instead of “He is a good judge of musical talent”,(noun +preposition) ,“School must try to make science more attractive for youngsters” instead of “School must try to make science more attractive to youngsters”, and “Results are accurate in within 0.2 seconds” instead of “Results are accurate to within 0.2seconds(adjective+preposition). seconds(adjective+preposition) 53
  54. 54. In some cases ,of course the interlingual transfermay cause errors . An interlingual error is onewhich results from language transfer. In other transfer.words, it is caused by the learners‘ nativelanguage.language. Some errors of this kind which havebeen found in this study, are: “He was angry are:from his bad behaviour (angry at) that isbecause of direct translation of the Azerisentence ,“ onun pis davranɪşdan davranɪəsəbləşdi”,here the suffix “dan” means “ from” blə dan”“and it is the reason of the error. Another error.example, He fell ill from Cholera in 1849( ill 1849(with)which is the direct translation of Azerisentence “o 1849-cu vəbadan xəstələndi” here 1849- stə ndi” 54also the suffix “dan” means “ from”. dan” from”.
  55. 55. To conclude the above research, the Azeri students make collocational errors while using collocation of prepositions , mostly on account of the ignorance of rule restrictions and interlingual transfer. transfer. Due to the importance of learning collocations , some suggestions can also be made about how to teach collocations. collocations. 55
  56. 56. First, it is not sufficient merely to teach lexicalcombinations, including collocations ofprepositions in isolation. Rather, they should be isolation.taught within context. Second, not only should context.the selection of collocations but also theirteaching should be with reference to L1, becauseL1 showed to be highly influential in theproduction of collocations. Third, since the use collocations.of collocations was highly correlated withEFL/ESL learners language proficiency,collocations should be considered as animportant factor in determining their overallproficiency 56
  57. 57. The findings of the present study are of practicalas well as theoretical importance to theEFL/ESL practitioners in the teaching ofcollocation and lexis to the EFL /ESL students. It students.seems that collocational competence caninfluence EFL/ESL learners overall languageability.ability. Collocations have an effective role in thesuccessful and native-like performance of EFL native-learners.learners. 57
  58. 58. Since teaching prepositions is of outmostimportance to the EFL/ESL students, aconscious knowledge of those prepositions willhelp them in their struggle towards theacquisition, manipulation and production ofEnglish as a foreign language. Moreover, the language.findings of the present study will give teacherssome hints and guidelines as to overcomeEFL/ESL students problems in collocation ofprepositions.prepositions. 58
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  64. 64. Table (1).The distribution of collocational errors among Azerbaijanian English learners Type of errors Number of errors Percentage of errors Verb+preposition 287 28.5% Preposition+noun 275 26.9% Noun+preposition 230 24.6% Adjective+preposition 200 20% 64