English General Nouns
A corpus theoretical approach
Michaela Mahlberg | University of Liverpool
This book proposes an innovative approach to general nouns. General nouns are defined as high-frequency nouns that are characterised by their textual functions. Although the concept is motivated by Halliday & Hasan (1976), the corpus theoretical approach adopted in the present study is fundamentally different and set in a linguistic framework that prioritises lexis. The study investigates 20 nouns that are very frequent in mainstream English, as represented by the Bank of English Corpus. The corpus-driven approach to the data involves a critical discussion of descriptive tools, such as patterns, semantic prosodies, and primings of lexical items, and the concept of 'local textual functions' is put forward to characterise the functions of the nouns in texts. The study not only suggests a characterisation of general nouns, but also stresses that functions of lexical items and properties of texts are closely linked. This link requires new ways of describing language.
[Studies in Corpus Linguistics, 20] 2005. x, 206 pp.
Publishing status: Available
© John Benjamins Publishing Company
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements | p. ix
Introduction | pp. 1–3
1. The attention they have been getting | pp. 5–11
2. The corpus linguistic point of view | pp. 13–39
3. Minimal assumptions in practice: interpreting corpus data | pp. 41–61
4. Time nouns | pp. 63–98
5. People Nouns | pp. 99–139
6. World nouns | pp. 141–159
7. Re-examining the minimal assumptions | pp. 161–178
8. Developing the corpus linguistic theory | pp. 179–194
Appendix 1: Pattern codes | p. 195
Appendix 2: `Longer examples in Chapter 5' | p. 196
Index | pp. 205–206
“EGN is a must for anyone who is interested in how general nouns in English are used and/or in linguistic theorising in the light of corpus data. At the descriptive level, Mahlberg has produced an extremely useful book on three particularly important sub-groups of general nouns, i.e. ‘time nouns’, ‘people nouns’ and ‘world nouns’, and she shows by way of exemplification how the corpus-driven approach can be applied to the quantitative and qualitative analysis of corpus data. At the theoretical and methodological level, EGN is both a reflection of and a contribution to general and fundamental points of discussion in corpus-linguistic research, including the status of frequency in corpus research, the understanding of text and context in corpus linguistics, the role of corpus findings in analyses of word classes as prototypical categories and the shared interest of corpus linguistics and cognitive linguistics. I hope to have shown that with regard to these four general issues, English general nouns are a very relevant and useful research area. Mahlberg’s book thus comes as a timely and welcome study and it is a good and valuable read.”
Joybrato Mukherjee, Justus Liebig University, Giessen in International Journal of Corpus Linguistics Vol. 12:1, (2007)
“Here is the first detailed empirical study of 'general nouns' in English. The book shows how to derive a fresh approach to a thorny problem using the new resources of large text corpora, and it is full of original observations and valuable insights into the workings of a central and difficult area of textual organisation.”
John Sinclair, President of the Tuscan Word Centre, Italy
“English General Nouns is a far from simple book, that contains a great deal more than the description of 20 frequently-occurring words. Its sometimes almost cryptic style opens the door to a complexity of thought that demands, but repays, work from its reader. Its topic is no less than how we investigate language in use and the relation between such investigation and language theory.”
Susan Hunston, University of Birmingham, in Functions of Language Vol. 15:1 (2008)
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Main BIC Subject
Main BISAC Subject
LAN009000: LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number: 2005055890 | Marc record