Collocation

We can also use concordances to help us distinguish between two apparently similar words by looking at the different collocations of each. Collocation is concerned with the particular affinity that certain words have for each other. The way that words collocate (eg. Adjectives with nouns) is particularly important for second language learners, but is not always easy to learn. For example, 'pale skin', but not 'pale coffee'; 'weak coffee', but not 'weak soup', 'thin soup', but not 'skinny soup'..

Corpus task: Collocation 1

Look at these concordances for the words important and significant from a small corpus of articles about language. What do they tell us about how these two words combine with other words?


1 you are gonna get a B- 6 ? so an important corollary here is that if meta
2ntly occurring cluster number of has an important discourse function in the writ
3al-time demands of such processing have important effects on the nature of the p
4ural proximal deictic these also has an important foregrounding function. It occ
5n spoken academic discourse seems to be important, implying overall that there i
6ademic discourse they are known to have important organising functions when in a
7nised she couldn't grasp the meaning of important points (extrinsic and intrinsi
8pression of key ideas and repetition of important points. Although the number of
9L2 listening and reading, by making two important points. Firstly, there seems t
10hough not as frequent as but, it has an important signalling function. Fig.
11re recently there have been a number of important studies relating to the intera
12used for listening comprehension. In an important study, Ross and Langille (1997
13 discourse event by making sure all the important terms are already familiar to
14 d available to a household, it is also important to consider creative ways of
15 ll as in songbirds. Furthermore, it is important to establish whether lesions
16mpersonal 'it' constructions (e.g. It is important to note that's, it is not neces
17 ls and not as adults, then it is also important to undertake further research
18 and Tveiten (2000) believe that it is important to view the child from a 9 g


1s Sections 2.1 and 2.2 highlighted two significant and complementary strands of
2of the discourse. This is particularly significant, as it is generally agreed t
3i and Fullilove's study is particularly significant as it was carried out over a
4al bedload transport method is what's a significant departure and 14 water
5or all *ly adverbs revealed a number of significant attitude and viewpoint adver
6mulaic sequence this is what also has a significant discourse function in the sp
7 from the NNS interlocutor) is itself a significant factor. 1.2 Reading 1.2
8se) is relatively simple, but isolating significant grammatical marking is less
9the following adverbs were particularly significant in the sentence initial posi
10sequences associated with here that are significant in the spoken monitor corpus
11uency of sentence initial but and so is significant in the written input corpus
12ntal drift seem to have been especially significant in their influence on 5
13 4.4.2 Information packaging The most significant information packaging featur
14 The written monitor corpus contains a significant number of examples of ‘imper
15al words in the text were edited out. A significant number of the subjects, part
16ibution across corpora There are two significant points here. Firstly, intere
17r example, among the most statistically significant single-word items in the wri
18of this signals the raising of a new or significant topical focus. On the other

Feedback

If we compare these two concordances, we can see that whilst both words can occur before nouns, important also occurs in the phrase important + to + verb . The word signficant , on the other hand, occurs in the phrase significant + in + noun

Collocation 2

It can take a long time to look through concordances if a word occurs very frequently. Corpus handling software, such as Wordsmith Tools, allows us to see the collocates of all the lines of our concordance in the form of a table. In this context, collocates simply means words that occur with statistical significance.

Look at the following table. It shows the words which occur frequently three places to the left and three places to the right of the particular word we have found 477 occurrences of in a corpus of 5 million words of spoken English. We can see that the word 'a' occurs 81 times one place to the left of (i.e. immediately before) our mystery word, and that 'and' occurs 43 times one place to the right (i.e. immediately after). Look at the other collocates. What do you think the mystery word is?

N

WORD

L3

L2

L1

Mystery word?

R1

R2

R3

1

A

47

7

80

8

9

4

2

YOU

25

19

1

10

18

20

3

AND

8

9

17

18

18

12

4

THE

7

10

49

11

13

7

5

I

9

3

0

16

16

14

6

OF

6

3

56

4

1

4

7

YEAH

2

4

2

18

15

6

8

HAVE

4

18

8

0

5

7

9

TEA

9

25

4

11

4

3

10

LIKE

3

10

14

1

5

6



Feedback

The mystery word is coffee.

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