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A Corpus-based Analysis of the Use of Lexical Bundles in English Academic Writing
English academic writing
本研究旨在探討母語和非母語人士在應用語言學領域的學術寫作中，四字字串的使用情形。主要研究目的包含: (1) 找出母語與非母語人士的學術寫作中頻繁且廣泛使用的字串；(2) 分析這些字串所呈現的結構與其在言談中所扮演的功能；(3) 探討非母語人士在這些字串的使用上，和母語人士相比，是否呈現多用與少用。
Lexical bundle research has attracted much interest in recent years. Lexical bundles are recurrent multiword sequences derived with a frequency-driven approach in a given register. While previous research has been largely conducted with native language data, only a few studies have discussed how nonnative speakers employ bundles in their language production. The gap between native and nonnative speakers’ use of the feature, as advocates of learner corpus research suggest, should be explored and can inform EAP pedagogy for more L2 learners’ linguistic deficiencies can thus be revealed through such comparison. This study intends to help fill the gap and aims to investigate the use of 4-word lexical bundles in academic writing by native and nonnative speakers of English in the field of applied linguistics. The purposes of the study are: (1) to identify lexical bundles in the corpora, (2) to analyze their the structural patterns and the functional purposes, and (3) to investigate the extent to which Taiwanese writers, in comparison with the native writers, have exhibited overuse and underuse of the lexical bundles. Two academic written corpora were compiled: the Native Speakers Corpus (NSC), a collection of two hundred research articles written by native speakers in published journals in applied linguistics, and the Nonnative Speaker Corpus (NNSC), a compilation of four hundred conference papers written by Taiwanese writers and presented in conferences in the field. The corpora respectively contained approximately 1.4 and 1.6 million words. Lexical bundles which occurred at least 20 times per million words and in at least 10% of all texts in the corpora were identified and categorized according to their structural patterns and functional purposes. Statistical analysis was then conducted to determine whether the bundles have been overused or underused by the nonnative speakers. The investigation and comparison have yielded a number of interesting findings. First, the native speakers used 151 types of lexical bundles. The Taiwanese writers used only 66 types. The results showed that the nonnative speakers overall used fewer lexical bundles in their academic writing. Second, the statistical analysis indicated that the nonnative speakers largely exhibited underuse of lexical bundles that were frequently used by the native speakers. Out of the 151 types in the NSC, 112 were underused. Many of them functioned as devices to frame arguments and express writers’ attitudinal judgment and attention-drawing purposes. This may suggest that the Taiwanesewriters were not fully aware of the discursive ways in which their discipline constructs knowledge and presents arguments. They may also neglect the interactive aspect in academic writing, which may be a result of an avoidance of referring to the authors so as to sound objective. In-depth corpus analysis further revealed that the nonnative speakers had a more limited linguistic repertoire, which, as a result, may have led to their overreliance on certain expressions and underuse of bundles that are synonymous. The nonnative speakers also overused 40 bundles. The overuse of bundles that specify research topic and location, along with structuring bundles, may reflect the nature of the nonnative corpus. Other overused bundles, including resultative signals, are likely due to the writers’ overemphasis on presenting results to persuade. Four overused stance signaling bundles were all very rarely used by the native speakers. This again shows that the Taiwanese writers may not be entirely familiar with the phraseology in academic writing in their discipline. On the basis of the findings, several pedagogical implications were drawn for English academic writing instruction in applied linguistics and possible directions for future lexical bundle research were suggested.
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