The use of formulaic language in Asian and European elf contexts: a Corpus based study

Ortaçtepe, Deniz
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Bilkent University
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This study aimed to examine the lexicogrammatical features of ELF spoken in two different contexts, namely Europe and Asia. More specifically, the study investigated the use of formulaic language in Asian and European ELF interactions by gathering data from two ELF corpora; the Vienna-Oxford International Corpus of English (VOICE) and Asian Corpus of English (ACE). Selecting conversations from both academic and social domains, a subset of data comprising around 160.000 words was created. Kecskes‘ (2007) formulaic continuum was used as an analytical framework to determine the high-frequency and low frequency formulaic expressions in academic and social ELF interactions in both ELF contexts. The formulaic expressions occurring in the dataset were recorded in six categories; grammatical units, fixed and semi-fixed semantic units, phrasal verbs, speech formulas, situation-bound utterances, and idioms. Employing tokenization and frequency analysis, frequency of occurrence of each type of formulaic language as well as individual expressions within each category was identified paying close attention to the non-standard forms as well. Data were analyzed descriptively to identify similarities and differences in the frequency of formulaic language in Asian and European ELF interactions. The findings revealed that, European ELF was slightly more formulaic than Asian ELF overall. Furthermore, social ELF interactions were found to be a little more formulaic than academic interactions in both ELF contexts. Among the six categories of formulaic language, speech formulas and fixed and semi-fixed semantic units were found to be the most frequent groups while situation-bound utterances and idioms were used least frequently in both Asian and European ELF irrespective of the speech domain. As for the non-standard forms of formulaic expressions, they were found to be slightly more frequent in Asian ELF than in European ELF. Among the most common sources of such unconventional forms were problems with the use of copula 'be‘, and the third person present tense marker '-s‘, use of lexis, overuse or omission of prepositions, article use and pluralization. Concerning the results above, the study implied that the lexicogrammatical features of English as a lingua franca, from a formulaic language perspective, showed a great degree of similarity in Asian and European contexts. The study also implied that the teaching of speech formulas and semantic units must be prioritized as those were used more often than the other types of formulaic language in intercultural communication.

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English as a lingua franca, Formulaic language, Corpus linguistics, Lexicogrammar
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