Multiword Structures in Different Materials, and with Different Goals and Methodologies

  • Britt Erman
  • Margareta Lewis
  • Lars Fant
Part of the Yearbook of Corpus Linguistics and Pragmatics book series (YCLP, volume 1)


Following an overview of early frequency-based research of recurring word combinations and patterns, three current methods within SLA focusing spoken and written production are presented. Studies within each of these methodological paradigms are compared from qualitative aspects, such as medium, size of material, control of task, topic and discipline. This is followed by a presentation of a small-scale empirical study using two of these methods, the lexical bundle method and the ‘comprehensive’ method, applied to the same spoken material of very advanced Swedish users of L2 English and L2 Spanish and native English and Spanish controls. Both methods are usage-based, scanning entire texts for multiword structures, one computer-driven, the lexical bundle method, and one largely manual, the comprehensive method. This small-scale study has shown that two different methods, yielding different results, can fruitfully be used together, not only to inform and complement one another, but to broaden our knowledge of what being nativelike involves, not to mention the vast implications such increased knowledge may have for teaching and learning an L2.


Noun Phrase Comprehensive Method Academic Writing Word Combination Discourse Marker 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Thanks are due to generous funding by The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation, Sweden. We also wish to thank Professor Annelie Ädel for providing the WordSmith files.


  1. Ädel, Annelie, and Britt Erman. 2012. Recurrent word combinations in academic writing by native and non-native students: A lexical bundles approach. English for Specific Purposes P33: 81–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Altenberg, Bengt. 1998. On phraseology of spoken English: The evidence of recurrent word combinations. In Phraseology: Theory, analysis and applications, ed. A.P. Cowie, 101–122. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Biber, D., and F. Barbieri. 2007. Lexical bundles in university spoken and written registers. English for Specific Purposes 26: 263–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Biber, D., S. Conrad, and V. Cortes. 2004. ‘If you look at…’: Lexical bundles in university teaching and textbooks. Applied Linguistics 25: 371–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brinton, L.J. 1996. Pragmatic markers in English: Grammaticalization and discourse functions. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chen, Y.-H., and P. Baker. 2010. Lexical bundles in L1 and L2 academic writing. Language, Learning and Technology 14(2): 30–49.Google Scholar
  7. Cortes, V. 2004. Lexical bundles in published and student disciplinary writing: Examples from history and biology. English for Specific Purposes 23(4): 397–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cowie, A.P. 1998. Phraseological dictionaries: Some east–west comparisons. In Phraseology: Theory, analysis and applications, ed. A.P. Cowie, 209–228. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. De Cock, S. 2004. Preferred sequences of words in NS and NNS speech. Belgian Journal of English Language and Literatures (BELL), New Series 2: 225–246.Google Scholar
  10. Denke, A. 2009. Nativelike performance: A corpus study of pragmatic markers, repairs and repetition in native and non-native English speech. Saarbrücken: VdmVerlag.Google Scholar
  11. Ellis, N.C. 1996. Sequencing in SLA, phonological memory, chunking, and points of order. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 18(1): 91–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ellis, N.C. 2006. Cognitive perspectives on SLA: The associative-cognitive CREED. Aila Review 19: 100–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Erman, B. 2009. Formulaic language from a learner perspective: What the learner needs to know. In Formulaic language, Vol. 2: Acquisition, loss, psychological reality and functional explanations, ed. R. Corrigan, E.A. Moravcsik, H. Quali, and K.M. Wheatly, 323–346. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  14. Erman, B., and B. Warren. 2000. The idiom principle and the open choice principle. Text 20(1): 29–62.Google Scholar
  15. Fillmore, C.J., P. Kay, and M.C. O’Connor. 1988. Regularity and idiomaticity in grammatical constructions: The case of let alone. Language 64(3): 501–538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Firth, J.R. 1957. A synopsis of linguistic theory. 1930–1955. In Selected papers of J.R. Firth, ed. F.R. Palmer, 168–205. London: Longman.Google Scholar
  17. Forsberg, F. 2008. Le Langage Préfabriqué: Formes, fonctions et frequences en français parlé L2 et L1. Bern: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  18. Forsberg, F., and L. Fant. 2010. Idiomatically speaking: Effects of task variation on formulaic language in highly proficient users of L2 French and Spanish. In Perspectives on formulaic language: Acquisition and communication, ed. Wood David, 47–70. London/New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  19. Granger, S. 1998. Prefabricated patterns in advanced EFL writing: Collocations and formulae. In Phraseology: Theory, analysis and applications, ed. A.P. Cowie, 145–160. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Groom, N. 2009. Effects of second language immersion on second language collocational development. In Researching collocations in another language: Multiple interpretations, ed. A. Barfield and H. Gyllstad, 21–33. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  21. Halliday, M.A.K. 1961. Categories of the theory of grammar. Word 17: 241–292.Google Scholar
  22. Hancock, V. 2000. Quelques connecteurs et modalisateurs dans le français parlé d’apprenants universitaires. Cahiers de la recherche 16. Doctoral dissertation, Department of French and Italian, Stockholm University.Google Scholar
  23. Hoey, M. 2005. Lexical priming: A new theory of words and language. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  24. Howarth, P. 1998a. Phraseology and second language proficiency. Applied Linguistics 19(1): 24–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Howarth, P. 1998b. The phraseology of learners’ academic writing. In Phraseology: Theory, analysis and applications, ed. A.P. Cowie, 161–186. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Hunston, S., and G. Francis. 2000. Pattern grammar: A corpus-driven approach to the lexical grammar of English. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  27. Hyland, K. 2008. Academic clusters: Text patterning in published and postgraduate writing. International Journal of Applied Linguistics 18(1): 41–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lewis, Michael. 2000. Teaching collocation: Further developments in the lexical approach. Hove: Language Teaching Publications.Google Scholar
  29. Lewis, Margareta. 2009. The idiom principle in L2 English: Assessing elusive formulaic sequences as indicators of idiomaticity, fluency, and proficiency. Saarbrücken: VDM Verlag.Google Scholar
  30. McCarthy, M., and R. Carter. 2004. This that and the other: Multi-word clusters in spoken English as visible patterns of interaction. Teanga: The Irish Yearbook of Applied Linguistics 21: 30–53.Google Scholar
  31. Mel’čuk, I. 1998. Collocations and lexical functions. In Phraseology: Theory, analysis, and applications, ed. A.P. Cowie, 23–53. Oxford: Clarendon.Google Scholar
  32. Nesselhauf, N. 2003. The use of collocations by advanced learners of English and some implications for teaching. Applied Linguistics 24(2): 223–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Raupach, M. 1984. Formulae in second language speech production. In Second language production, ed. H.W. Dechert, D. Möhle, and M. Raupach, 114–137. Tübingen: Günter Narr Verlag.Google Scholar
  34. Redeker, G. 1990. Ideational and pragmatic markers of discourse structure. Journal of Pragmatics 14: 367–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Renouf, Antoinette, and John Sinclair. 1991. Collocational frameworks in English. In English corpus linguistics: Studies in honour of Jan Svartvik, ed. Karin Aijmer and Bengt Altenberg, 128–144. London/New York: Longman.Google Scholar
  36. Römer, U. 2009. English in academia: Does nativeness matter? Anglistik: International Journal of English Studies 20(2): 89–100.Google Scholar
  37. Schiffrin, D. 1987. Discourse markers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Scott, M. 2007. WordSmith Tools (version 4.0) (Computer software). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Sinclair, J. 1991. Corpus, concordance, collocation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Stubbs, Michael. 2002. Words and phrases. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  41. Wiktorsson, M. 2003. Learning idiomaticity: A corpus-based study of idiomatic expressions in learners’ written production, Lund studies in English 105. Lund: Lund University.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Department of Spanish and PortugueseStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

Personalised recommendations