Textual patterns: Key words and corpus analysis in language education.

Textual patterns: Key words and corpus analysis in language education. By Mike Scott and Christopher Tribble. (Studies in corpus linguistics 22.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2006. Pp. x, 203. ISBN 9027222940. $39.95.

Reviewed by Aleksandar Čarapić, University of Belgrade

Mike Scott and Christopher Tribble’s Textual patterns: Key words and corpus analysis in language education aims to familiarize the audience with corpus resources, theoretical frameworks, and analytical tools that are highly relevant for language teachers and their educators to show how key-word (KW) analysis and the systematic study of lexis and genre can model the groundwork for a corpus-informed approach to language teaching.

The volume consists of ten chapters divided into two parts. Part 1 (3–88) by S is more theory-oriented; Part 2 (91–193) by T demonstrates practical application to a group of diverse areas of knowledge. Ch. 1, ‘Texts in language study and language education’, focuses on features of corpus-based analysis highlighting four different sources for corpus-oriented researchers: the text, the language, the culture, and the brain. Providing an explanation of word lists, Ch. 2, ‘Word-lists: Approaching texts’, shows that such lists obey power laws; it further deals with the transformation of a text into a word list, and the selection of words that will figure in it. Discussing collocations, colligations, and semantic prosody, Ch. 3, ‘Concordances: The immediate context’, explores concordancing and the nature of cooccurrence. Starting with the nature of keyness and its dependence on repetition, Ch. 4, ‘Key words in individual texts: Aboutness and style’, aims to establish a method for identifying KWs, and Ch. 5, ‘Key words and genres’, focuses on ‘“association” (the contextual relationship between words that are key in the same text)’ (72) to determine formal patterns of linkage and to provide analysis of such patterns as obtained not only within texts, but between them, too.

Demonstrating how an analysis of small sets of texts with similar content helps teachers and students understand the contrasting linguistic choices made by speakers and writers in the process of text production, Ch. 6, ‘General English language teaching’, begins with the grammatical and lexical differences between spoken and written language. Ch. 7, ‘Business and professional communication’, shows how KW analysis can identify words that are relevant for discourse moves ‘critical to the management of writer/reader relationships in professional correspondence’ (103). Ch. 8, ‘English for academic purposes’, focuses on clusters (bundles, N-grams), showing how they can be used to examine contrast between expert and apprentice production in academic writing. Ch. 9, ‘What counts in current journalism’, deals with KW analysis in a diachronic perspective using a collection of texts from the Guardian Weekly. Finally, Ch. 10, ‘Counting things in text you can’t count on’, uses Samuel Beckett’s Texts for nothing to show the ways in which tools that are used in the analysis of large collections of texts can be applied to an analysis of an extremely short story.

This book reveals an extremely interesting concept of the quantitative and qualitative interface of the study of lexis in text. Clearly and convincingly written, it will be highly valued by both beginners and experts whose interests lie in the lexical relations within texts and genres from various linguistic perspectives of applied linguistics, computational linguistics, corpus linguistics, pragmatics, semantics, text and discourse linguistics, and so on.