Understanding learners´use of adverbs in spoken discourse

Understanding learners´ use of adverbs in spoken discourse: QUAN and QUAL insights from the LINDSEI corpus.
Pascual Pérez-Paredes, University of Cambridge

Queen Mary University, London. Applied Linguistics Research and Practice – guest speaker series.

Thu 16 November 2017, 16:30 – 17:30 GMT

Talk info


The use of adverbs in spoken discourse has received very little attention in learner language and SLA research (De Haan, 1999; Osborne, 2008; Pérez-Paredes, 2010a; Philip, 2008). In particular, SLA researchers have preferred to examine other structures such as t-units, clauses, sentence length, to name but a few, and have largely neglected the potential role of phrasal constructions and, especially, adverb phrases. However, some corpus research (Pérez-Paredes and Sánchez-Tornel, 2014; Pérez-Paredes and Diez-Bedmar, forthcoming) has shown that the use of adverbs is one of the few criterial features that define language development in instructed SLA. This paper discusses the use of really, probably and obviously in spoken language across different tasks. I´ll discuss the attested uses of these adverbs in four learner and native speaker corpora: the Chinese, German and Spanish LINDSEI (Brand and Kämmerer, 2006) components (n=50 each) and the extended LOCNEC corpus (n=78) (Aguado-Jiménez et al, 2012). These adverbs present different opportunities to examine the affordances of using mixed methods (QUAN + QUAL) in learner language analysis. I´ll argue that the study of adverbs can be of potential interest to SLA researchers working on complexity and variation (Gablasova et al, 2016; Romero-Trillo, 2002) and, more generally, I´ll extend the contributions of corpus-driven learner language studies outlined, among others, in Mukherjee (2009) and Gablasova et al. (2017). Although the LINDSEI and the extended LOCNEC cannot be considered as pedagogical corpora (Pérez-Paredes, 2010b), some of these findings can be of interest to language teachers and may effectively inform HE and adult language teaching practice.



-Aguado-Jiménez, P., Pérez-Paredes, P., & Sánchez, P. (2012). Exploring the use of multidimensional analysis of learner language to promote register awareness. System, 40(1), 90-103.

-Aijmer, K. (1986). Why is actually so popular in spoken English? In T. Gunnel & I. Bäcklund (eds.), English in speech and writing: A symposium. (pp. 119–129). Uppsala: Studia Anglistica Uppsaliensia.

-Aijmer, K. (2008). Modal adverbs in interaction: obviously and definitely in adolescent speech. In T. Nevalainen, I. Taavitsainen, P. Pahta, & M. Korhonen (eds.). The Dynamics of Linguistic Variation: Corpus evidence on English past and present. (pp. 61-84). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

-Aijmer, K. (2011). Well I’m not sure I think… The use of well by non-native speakers. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 16(2), 231-254.
-Alonso Almeida, F. (2012). Sentential evidential adverbs and authorial stance in a corpus of English computing articles. Revista Española de Lingüística Aplicada, Special issue 1, 15- 32.
Bardovi‐Harlig, K. (2013). Developing L2 pragmatics. Language Learning, 63(1), 68-86.

-Bartley, L & Hidalgo-Tenorio, E. (2016). “Well, I think that my argument is …,” or modality in a learner corpus of English. Revista Española de Lingüística Aplicada, 29 (1): 1-28.

-Biber, D. (1988). Variation across speech and writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

-Biber, D. (2006). Stance in spoken and written university registers. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 5 (2), 97-116

-Biber, D. (2015). Stance and grammatical complexity: An unlikely partnership discovered through corpus analysis. Corpus Linguistics Research 1: 1-19.

-Biber, D., & Finegan, E. (1988). Adverbial stance types in English. Discourse processes, 11(1), 1-34.

-Biber, D., & Finegan, E. (1989). Styles of stance in English: Lexical and grammatical marking of evidentiality and affect. Text-interdisciplinary journal for the study of discourse, 9(1), 93-124.

-Biber, D., & Staples, S. (2014). Exploring the prosody of stance: Variation in the realization of stance adverbials. In T. Raso and H. Mello (eds.). Spoken Corpora and Linguistic Studies. (pp. 271-294). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

-Biber, D., Gray, B., & Staples, S. (2014). Predicting patterns of grammatical complexity across language exam task types and proficiency levels. Applied Linguistics, 37(5), 639-668

-Biber, D., Johansson, S., Leech, G., Conrad, S., Finegan, E., & Quirk, R. (1999). Longman grammar of spoken and written English (Vol. 2). MIT Press.

-Brand, C., & Kämmerer, S. (2006). The Louvain international database of spoken English interlanguage (LINDSEI): Compiling the German component. In S. Braun, K. Kohn, & J. Mukherjee (eds). Corpus Technology and Language Pedagogy. (pp. 127-140). Frankfurt: Peter Lang.

-Çakır, H. (2016). Native and Non-Native Writers’ Use of Stance Adverbs in English Research Article Abstracts. Open Journal of Modern Linguistics, 6, 85-96.

-Carrió-Pastor, M. L., & Alonso-Almeida, F. (2014). English as a second language: Variations and pedagogical implications. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 116, 377-381.

-Cheng, W., Greaves, C., & Warren, M. (2008). A corpus-driven study of discourse intonation: the Hong Kong corpus of spoken English (prosodic) (Vol. 32). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing.

-Conrad, S. & Biber D. (2000) Adverbial marking of stance in speech and writing. In S. Hunston & G. Thompson (eds.). Evaluation in text: Authorial stance and the construction of discourse. (pp. 56–73). New York: Oxford University Press.

-De Cock, S. (1998). A Recurrent Word Combination Approach to the Study of Formulae in the Speech of Native and Non-Native Speakers of English. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 3(1), 59-80.
De Haan, P. (1999). English writing by Dutch-speaking students. Language and Computers, 26, 203-214.

-Fung, L., & Carter, R. (2007). Discourse markers and spoken English: Native and learner use in pedagogic settings. Applied Linguistics, 28(3), 410-439.

-Gablasova, D., Brezina, V., McEnery, T., & Boyd, E. (2016). Epistemic stance in spoken L2 English: The effect of task and speaker style. Applied Linguistics, 37(3), 1–27. doi:10.1093/applin/amv055

-Gabrielatos, C. & McEnery, T. (2005). Epistemic modality in MA dissertations. In P.A. Fuertes Olivera (Ed.), Lengua y sociedad: Aportaciones recientes en lingüística cognitiva, lenguas en contacto, lenguajes de especialidad y lingüística del corpus (pp. 311-331). Valladolid: Universidad de Valladolid.

-Gilquin, G. (2008) Hesitation markers among EFL learners: Pragmatic deficiency or difference?. In Jesús Romero-Trillo (ed.) Pragmatics and Corpus Linguistics: A Mutualistic Entente. (pp. 119-149). Berlin, Heidelberg & New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

-Gilquin, G., Granger, S., & Paquot, M. (2007). Learner corpora: The missing link in EAP pedagogy. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 6(4), 319-335.

-Gilquin, G., & Paquot, M. (2008). Too chatty: Learner academic writing and register variation. English Text Construction, 1(1), 41-61.

-Gablasova, D. & Brezina V. (2015). Does speaker role affect the choice of epistemic adverbials in L2 speech? Evidence from the Trinity Lancaster Corpus. In J. Romero-Trillo (ed). Yearbook of Corpus Linguistics and Pragmatics. (pp. 117– 36). Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.

-Götz, S. & Schilk, M. (2011). Formulaic sequences in spoken ENL, ESL and EFL. Focus on British English, Indian English and learner English of advanced German learners.. In M. Hundt & J. Mukherjee (eds) Exploring Second-Language Varieties of English and Learner Englishes: Bridging a Paradigm Gap (pp. 79-100). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

-Granger, S. (1998). Prefabricated patterns in advanced EFL writing: Collocations and formulae. In A.P. Cowie (ed.). Phraseology: Theory, analysis, and applications. (pp. 145-160). Oxford: Clarendon Press.

-Granger, S. (2012). Learner corpora. The encyclopedia of applied linguistics. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/9781405198431.wbeal0669/full

-Granger, S. & Rayson, P. (1998). Automatic profiling of learner texts. In S. Granger (ed.) Learner English on Computer. (pp. 119-131). London and New York: Longman.

-Hinkel, E. (2002). Second language writers’ text: Linguistic and rhetorical features. London/New York: Routledge.

-Hinkel, E. (2003). Adverbial Markers and Tone in L1 and L2 Students’ Writing. Journal of Pragmatics, 35, 1049-1068. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0378-2166(02)00133-9

-Hunston, S. (1994) Evaluation and Organisation in a Sample of Written Academic Discourse. In M. Coulthard (ed.) Advances in Written Text Analysis. (pp. 191–218). London: Routledge

-Hyland, K. (1996). Talking to the academy: Forms of hedging in science research articles. Written Communication, 13, 251–281

-Hyland, K. (2002). Activity and evaluation: Reporting practices in academic writing. In J. Flowerdew (Ed.). Academic discourse. (pp. 115–130). New York: Longman.

-Hyland, K. (2004). Disciplinary interactions: Metadiscourse in L2 postgraduate writing. Journal of second language writing, 13(2), 133-151.

-Hyland, K. & Milton, J. (1997). Qualification and certainty in L1 and L2 students’ writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 16 (2), 183-205.

-Kilgarriff, A., Baisa, V., Bušta, J., Jakubíˇcek, M., Kováˇr, V., Michelfeit, J., Rychlý, P., & Suchomel, V. (2014) The sketch engine: ten years on. Lexicography 1(1), 7–36

-Liu, R., & Ren, P. (2012). A Corpus-Based Comparative Study of the Expressions of Attitudinal Stance Adverbs between Chinese and English Students’ Written English. Journal of Educational Institute of Jilin Province, 12, 126-127.

-Liddicoat, A. (2016). Native and non-native speaker identities in interaction: Trajectories of power. Applied Linguistics Review, 7(4), 409-429.

-Schleppegrell, M. (2004). The language of schooling: A functional linguistics perspective. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Lorenz, G. (1999). Adjective Intensification – Learners versus Native Speakers. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

-Myers, G. (2010) Stance-taking and public discussion in blogs. Critical Discourse Studies, 7 (4), 263-275.

-Müller, S. (2004). ‘Wellyouknowthattypeofperson’: functions of well in the speech of American and German students. Journal of pragmatics, 36(6), 1157-1182.

-Müller, S. (2005). Discourse markers in native and non-native English discourse (Vol. 138). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing.

-Mukherjee, J. (2009). The grammar of conversation in advanced spoken learner English: learner corpus data and language-pedagogical implications. In K. Aijmer (ed.). Corpora and Language Teaching. (pp. 203–230). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing.

-Osborne, J. (2008). Adverb placement in post-intermediate learner English: A contrastive study of learner corpora. In G. Gilquin, Sz. Papp, & M.B. Díez-Bedmar (eds.). (2008). Linking up contrastive and learner corpus research. (pp. 127-146). Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi.

-Peacock, M. (2015). Stance adverbials in research writing. Ibérica: Revista de la Asociación Europea de Lenguas para Fines Específicos (AELFE), 29, 35-62.

-Pérez-Paredes, P. (2010) The death of the adverb revisited: Attested uses of adverbs in native and non-native comparable corpora of spoken English. In M. Moreno Jaén, F. Serrano Valverde, & M. Calzada Pérez (eds) Exploring New Paths in Language Pedagogy. Lexis and Corpus-based Language Teaching. (pp. 157-172). London: Equinox.

-Pérez-Paredes, P., & Sánchez-Tornel, M. (2014). Adverb use and language proficiency in young learners’ writing. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 19(2), 178-200.

-Pérez-Paredes, P., & Sánchez-Tornel, M. (2015). A multidimensional analysis of learner language during story reconstruction in interviews. In M. Callies, & S. Götz (eds.). Learner Corpora in Language Testing and Assessment. (pp. 141- 162). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing.

-Pérez-Paredes, P., Sánchez Hernández, P. & Aguado Jiménez, P. (2008) Adverbial hedges in university students’ oral performance: A cross-language multidimensional analysis. In P. Sánchez Hernández, P. Pérez-Paredes, P. Aguado Jiménez & R. Criado Sánchez (eds) Researching and Teaching Specialized Languages: New Contexts, New Challenges. (pp. 130-140). Murcia: Editum, Universidad de Murcia.

-Philip, G. (2008). Adverb use in EFL student writing: from learner dictionary to text production. Proceedings of EURALEX XIII International Congress. doi: 10.6092/unibo/amsacta/2436

-Romero-Trillo, J. (2002). The pragmatic fossilization of discourse markers in non-native speakers of English. Journal of Pragmatics 34(6), 769-784

-Schleppegrell, M. J. (2004). The language of schooling: A functional linguistics perspective. London/New York: Routledge.

-Simon-Vandenbergen, A. & Aijmer, K. (2007). The Semantic Field of Modal Certainty: A Corpus-Based Study of English Adverbs. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

-Thompson, G., & Yiyun, Y. (1991). Evaluation in the reporting verbs used in academic papers. Applied Linguistics, 12(4), 365-382.

Waters, C. (2008). Actually, it’s more than pragmatics, it’s really grammaticalization. (Graduate Research Paper). Toronto working Papers in Linguistics. Toronto: Department of Linguistics, University of Toronto. http://twpl.library.utoronto.ca/index.php/twpl/article/view/6537

-Zhang, G. Q., & Sabet, P. G. (2014). Elastic ‘I think’: stretching over L1 and L2. Applied Linguistics, 37 (3), 334-353.


Pascual Pérez-Paredes is a Lecturer in Research in Second Language Education at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. His main research interests are learner language variation, the use of corpora in language education and corpus-assisted discourse analysis, He has published research in journals such as CALL, Language, Learning & Technology, System, ReCALL, Discourse & Society and the International Journal of Corpus Linguistics.