Lexical variation in connector use
Sylvi Rørvik, Hedmark University College
Thursday 26 March at 14.15 in PAM 489
In this talk I will present results from an ongoing investigation into lexical variation in connector use. The material consists of argumentative texts from three "varieties" of English: L1 expert texts (opinion pieces from newspapers), L1 novice texts (from the LOCNESS corpus), and L2 novice texts (from the Norwegian component of the International Corpus of Learner English).
My primary goal is to describe the connector use of the Norwegian learners, in comparison with the two native varieties. Previous research has shown that advanced learners of English may both overuse and underuse connectors compared to native speakers (NS). For instance, Swedish learners underuse connectors (Altenberg & Tapper 1998), while learners from various other L1 backgrounds overuse connectors (cf. Milton & Shuk-ching Tsang 1993, Granger & Tyson 1996, Gilquin & Paquot 2008, and Paquot 2008). However, most of these studies stress the fact that learners may overuse certain lexical items and underuse others. Thus, in order to examine whether learners overuse or underuse connectors, we must take into account the actual lexical items used, and examine them individually. As regards Norwegian learners, they have been shown to overuse connectors (defined as co-ordinating conjunctions and conjunct adverbials) overall compared to native speakers (Rørvik 2013), but it remains to be seen whether this overuse is a general tendency, or whether it is caused by overuse of some individual lexical items (and possibly underuse of others).
A further issue, which remains largely unaddressed in the literature, is the question of the dispersion within the corpora, be they native or learner, on which such conclusions about over- and underuse are based. I would like to use the opportunity afforded by this talk to discuss potential solutions to this problem, taking examples from my study of connector use as the starting point.