LINGUIST List 32.2721

Fri Aug 20 2021

Diss: Text/Corpus Linguistics: Mohsen Shirazizadeh: ''Academic collocates: Identification, Variation and pedagogical Value''

Editor for this issue: Sarah Robinson <>

Date: 20-Aug-2021
From: Mohsen Shirazizadeh <>
Subject: Academic collocates: Identification, Variation and pedagogical Value
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Institution: Tarbiat Modares University
Program: PhD
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2014

Author: Mohsen Shirazizadeh

Dissertation Title: Academic collocates: Identification, Variation and pedagogical Value

Linguistic Field(s): Text/Corpus Linguistics

Dissertation Director:
Reza Ghafar Samar
Ramin Akbari

Dissertation Abstract:

Successful completion of any linguistic task requires sensitivity to the context in which the task is being performed since any context calls for a particular way of employing language. Such context-based linguistic variation occurs at different linguistic levels and in various types of language use. Although academic writing is different from other types of writing in terms of its various linguistic features, it could not be perceived as a unified whole. Different disciplines within academia employ language differently as they have to conform to the linguistic conventions of different discourse communities. Such variation within academic language might be found at various linguistic levels (e.g. lexis, grammar, discourse). In view of this fact, one of the aims of the present study was to investigate the effect of different disciplinary contexts on the use and variation of the collocates of certain academic words. In so doing, we selected, based on some criteria, a number of the words from the Academic Vocabulary List (Gardner & Davies, 2013) and compared their collocates across the texts of four university disciplines, namely humanities, medicine, (basic) sciences and engineering. Our findings indicated that the collocates of our target academic words varied substantially across the texts of different university discipline. As our second aim, we set out to also see if native English speakers use the collocates of the academic words differently from non-native writers. Hence, we compared the collocates of academic words as used by native and non-native scholars. In a more focused analysis, we also compared native writers with Iranian writers in this respect. Our findings showed that although the L1 of academic writers apparently affected the use of collocates, these differences were rooted, to a large extent, in the (con)textual requirements of the disciplines which had appeared as L1-based differences due to textual and computational probabilities and limitations. The final objective of our study was to examine the possible effect of teaching academic words in combination with their collocates on the academic writing performance of EFL learners. To this aim, we compared the end-of-the-course academic writing performance of our target experimental group with another group that had received instruction on academic vocabulary alone (i.e. not with their collocates). The findings showed that teaching academic vocabulary in combination with their collocates had no significant effect on learners academic writing performance. An important conclusion which could be drawn from this dissertation is that the textual requirements of university disciplines affect even the collocates of general academic words which are purported to be equally frequent and useful across disciplines. It was also concluded that the influence of academic writers’ L1 is possibly subdued by the generic and textual requirements of academic writing. The findings are discussed in light of the previous literature and logical deductions are made as to their implications for the research and practice of English teaching in academia. Some recommendations for further research are also made which are hoped to be taken up by future researchers to fill the gaps in the research on different layers of linguistic variation within academia.

Page Updated: 20-Aug-2021