The Use of MAKE and TAKE by Spanish and Italian Learners of English : A Corpus Study
Sammanfattning: The present paper investigates the use of two high–frequency verbs: make and take. These verbs are particularly interesting since they express basic meaning (the meaning of the verb is mostly determined by its combinations). Therefore, they do not constitute a problem in learners’ comprehension. However, because they have little semantic content, learning how to use them appropriately has proved to be tricky even for advanced learners (Howarth, 1998; Altenberg & Granger, 2001; Nesselhauf, 2003; Futgi et al. 2008). The aim of this study is to analyse learners’ ability to produce the two high-frequency verbs to uncover features of non–nativeness of learner language in relation to the use of these verbs, such as overuse/underuse of certain verbs, nouns, collocations or structures, focusing on Spanish and Italian learners of English. Corpus Linguistics (CL) is particularly useful for looking for this type of non–native usage patterns. Learner Corpora will be studied using CIA, Contrastive Interlanguage Analysis (Granger, 1998) as a method, more specifically NL/IL comparison (native language vs interlanguage) to be able to compare native and non–native speakers’ performances in comparable situations. A second type of comparison will be made between two interlanguages (Spanish and Italian). Including a second L2 variety allows to distinguish general L2 features from characteristics that are exclusive to one particular language. Authentic learner data has been retrieved from the International Corpus of Learner English (ICLE). ICLE contains argumentative essays produced by advanced second language learners of English from different mother–tongue backgrounds. The Louvain Corpus of Native English Essays (LOCNESS) is used as a control corpus to compare it with the learner corpora. Results bring further evidence that high-frequency verbs are difficult items even for advanced English learners. In addition, the two learner groups share some of the problems, while others, despite the similarities between the two languages, are related to the L1 of the learners. These results have pedagogical implications: teachers should aim to improve learners’ productive capacities of those items that have not been fully mastered yet, such as high-frequency verbs.
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