Edited by Victoria Hasko
[International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 18:3] 2013
► pp. 327–356
The genitive alternation in Chinese and German ESL learners
Towards a multifactorial notion of context in learner corpus research
This paper exemplifies an approach to learner corpus data that adopts a multifactorial definition of ‘context’. We apply a logistic regression to 2,986 attestations of genitive alternation (the squirrel’s nest vs. the nest of the squirrel) from the Chinese and German sub-sections of the International Corpus of Learner English and the British component of the International Corpus of English that were coded for 12 factors. Importantly, the speakers’ L1 was included as a predictor to be able to compare properly the native speakers with the learners as well as the two learner groups with each other. The final regression model predicts all speakers’ genitive choices very accurately (> 93%) and suggests that (i) the learners rely heavily on processing-related factors, which can be overridden by semantic constraints, and (ii) learners’ choices are differentially modulated by their L1. We close with a discussion of how this context-based, multifactorial approach goes beyond traditional learner corpus research.
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