Mastering collocations is a marker of communicative competence. Knowing which words work together – and which do not, one might add – is necessary for (advanced) learners to express meaning in a fluent and natural way. To this end, collocations, as transparent, more or less fixed combinations of words, often represent a problematic issue for learners of a foreign language, especially because of the different linguistic ways languages carve and express knowledge and common experience. In the field of English as a foreign language the inclusion and treatment of collocations is one of the main characteristics of general-purpose Learners’ Dictionaries (LDs), especially of more recent, corpus-based editions. According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (OALD, 2010, Foreword) “it's not enough to know the right vocabulary - students also have to know which words go together if they want to sound natural”, and according to the Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners (MED, on-line edition, Introduction) students need information not only about meaning but also about how words combine “to write natural-sounding English”. In a similar perspective and in a considerably more detailed way, specialised Collocations Dictionaries aim at helping learners of English express their ideas “naturally and convincingly” (Oxford Collocations Dictionary (OCD) 2009, back cover) and “write more natural and accurate English” (Macmillan Collocations Dictionary (MCD) 2010, back cover). This paper compares the treatment of some verb+noun collocations in the above-mentioned Dictionaries. The comparison aims at assessing their respective role in helping learners avoid collocational errors. It also envisages the possibility, to be further explored with the active involvement of learners, of connecting the role of collocations as a marker of communicative fluency with languaging, not only as the ability “to express in language, put into words; to tell, to describe, report” (OED, s.v. language verb), but also as “a dynamic, never-ending process of using language to make meaning” and “of shaping knowledge and experience through language” (Swain 2006: 96, 98). Swain further expounds on this concept in a metalinguistic direction concerning “languaging about language”, considered as “one of the ways we learn a second language to an advanced level” (2006: 96), and reports on a number of studies showing how “students were stimulated to language about language because in doing the tasks, they realised that there were things about the target language that they did not know, or were unsure of” (2006: 105). The four dictionaries are thus also analysed to see if while helping learners avoid errors they also engage them in a form of silent ‘languaging’ à la Swain1, in the sense of stimulating an interaction between what students wrongly write and what dictionaries correctly report, hopefully leading to a higher degree of awareness and to improved performance. Among the four dictionaries2 the OALD and the OCD on the one hand, and the MED and the MCD on the other, are supposed to share common sources (corpora) and similar policies regarding the definition of collocations, alongside differently tailored yet partially shared objectives. The analysis of selected entries has been based on verb+object noun collocational errors from ICLE-IT, the Italian component of the Louvain International Corpus of Learner English (Granger et al., 2009, Granger et al., 2002, Prat Zagrebelsky, 2004) as a source to identify learners’ needs. Learners’ verb+object noun productions are considered as collocational errors on the basis of the wrong choice of the verb for the object noun (Martelli 2007: 41). The semasiological approach of the two LDs and the onomasiological approach of the two collocations dictionaries (Coffey 2005) affect their respective macro- and micro-structure, and this partly explains the lexicographical and structural differences in their inclusion and treatment of the selected collocations. Yet, findings show that, alongside overlappings, the entries analysed also reveal differences, probably due to different descriptive approaches, different sources and different notions of use restrictions

Stefania Nuccorini (2016). The treatment of lexical collocations in English Collocations Dictionaries and Learners’ Dictionaries: a languaging perspective. In E.O. Campagna Sandra (a cura di), Languaging in and across Communities: New Voices, New Identities (pp. 105-128). Bern : Peter Lang.

The treatment of lexical collocations in English Collocations Dictionaries and Learners’ Dictionaries: a languaging perspective

NUCCORINI, Stefania
2016

Abstract

Mastering collocations is a marker of communicative competence. Knowing which words work together – and which do not, one might add – is necessary for (advanced) learners to express meaning in a fluent and natural way. To this end, collocations, as transparent, more or less fixed combinations of words, often represent a problematic issue for learners of a foreign language, especially because of the different linguistic ways languages carve and express knowledge and common experience. In the field of English as a foreign language the inclusion and treatment of collocations is one of the main characteristics of general-purpose Learners’ Dictionaries (LDs), especially of more recent, corpus-based editions. According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (OALD, 2010, Foreword) “it's not enough to know the right vocabulary - students also have to know which words go together if they want to sound natural”, and according to the Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners (MED, on-line edition, Introduction) students need information not only about meaning but also about how words combine “to write natural-sounding English”. In a similar perspective and in a considerably more detailed way, specialised Collocations Dictionaries aim at helping learners of English express their ideas “naturally and convincingly” (Oxford Collocations Dictionary (OCD) 2009, back cover) and “write more natural and accurate English” (Macmillan Collocations Dictionary (MCD) 2010, back cover). This paper compares the treatment of some verb+noun collocations in the above-mentioned Dictionaries. The comparison aims at assessing their respective role in helping learners avoid collocational errors. It also envisages the possibility, to be further explored with the active involvement of learners, of connecting the role of collocations as a marker of communicative fluency with languaging, not only as the ability “to express in language, put into words; to tell, to describe, report” (OED, s.v. language verb), but also as “a dynamic, never-ending process of using language to make meaning” and “of shaping knowledge and experience through language” (Swain 2006: 96, 98). Swain further expounds on this concept in a metalinguistic direction concerning “languaging about language”, considered as “one of the ways we learn a second language to an advanced level” (2006: 96), and reports on a number of studies showing how “students were stimulated to language about language because in doing the tasks, they realised that there were things about the target language that they did not know, or were unsure of” (2006: 105). The four dictionaries are thus also analysed to see if while helping learners avoid errors they also engage them in a form of silent ‘languaging’ à la Swain1, in the sense of stimulating an interaction between what students wrongly write and what dictionaries correctly report, hopefully leading to a higher degree of awareness and to improved performance. Among the four dictionaries2 the OALD and the OCD on the one hand, and the MED and the MCD on the other, are supposed to share common sources (corpora) and similar policies regarding the definition of collocations, alongside differently tailored yet partially shared objectives. The analysis of selected entries has been based on verb+object noun collocational errors from ICLE-IT, the Italian component of the Louvain International Corpus of Learner English (Granger et al., 2009, Granger et al., 2002, Prat Zagrebelsky, 2004) as a source to identify learners’ needs. Learners’ verb+object noun productions are considered as collocational errors on the basis of the wrong choice of the verb for the object noun (Martelli 2007: 41). The semasiological approach of the two LDs and the onomasiological approach of the two collocations dictionaries (Coffey 2005) affect their respective macro- and micro-structure, and this partly explains the lexicographical and structural differences in their inclusion and treatment of the selected collocations. Yet, findings show that, alongside overlappings, the entries analysed also reveal differences, probably due to different descriptive approaches, different sources and different notions of use restrictions
978-3-0343-2073-3
Stefania Nuccorini (2016). The treatment of lexical collocations in English Collocations Dictionaries and Learners’ Dictionaries: a languaging perspective. In E.O. Campagna Sandra (a cura di), Languaging in and across Communities: New Voices, New Identities (pp. 105-128). Bern : Peter Lang.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11590/311936
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