Corpus-based Analyses of the Problem-Solution Pattern: A by Lynne Flowerdew

By Lynne Flowerdew

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A commonly held view is that the larger the corpus, the better it is for extracting linguistic information: ‘Regarding the question of corpus size, writers are unanimous in arguing that in principle bigger is better (Sinclair 1991). The more text there is in a corpus, the more likely it is to give an accurate representation of the language and an adequate number of examples of a given key word’ (Flowerdew 1996: 100). While this is true in general terms, this whole question of what is considered to be an appropriate size for a corpus is highly dependent on the phenomenon one is investigating.

Evoking The list of key words in each corpus and in each individual report was also examined for instances of Inscribed and Evoking items for the Problem-Solution pattern. In PROFCORP a distinct pattern began to emerge across the corpus as a whole and all the reports. In the whole PROFCORP corpus 15 out of the top 40 key words can be classified as belonging to one of the categories for the pattern. The Evoking items, noise, impacts, impact, waste, traffic, dust, realise the Problem element with construction, landfill and reclamation having the potential to be either the Problem or Solution element depending on the context.

This background information has important implications for the choice of a contrastive reference corpus, which is discussed in Chapter 5. The titles of these reports together with a breakdown of the number of words in each and the consultancy firms who produced them are given in Appendix 3-1. g. 1_ERM, which could be used to identify the consulting company who produced the report and to differentiate one report from another written by the same company. Student Corpus (STUCORP) The student corpus (STUCORP) comprises 80 group project reports written by 2nd and 3rd year undergraduate Science and Engineering students on a Technical Communication Skills course in the Language Centre at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST).

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