Exploring atypical verb+noun combinations in learner technical writing

  • María José Luzón Marco
Keywords: learner corpora, technical writing, collocation, sub-technical vocabulary, high-frequency verbs


Professional and academic discourse is characterised by a specific phraseology, which usually poses problems for students. This paper investigates atypical verb+noun collocations in a corpus of English technical writing of Spanish students. I focus on the type of verbs that most frequently occurred in these awkward or questionable combinations and attempt to explore the reasons why the learners deviate from NS's norms. The analysis indicates that these learners tend to have problems with a set of sub-technical and high-frequency verbs. Deviant combinations involving these verbs are frequently the result of a deficient knowledge of the phraseology of academic and technical discourse. The unawareness of collocations that are typical of this discourse often leads students to create V+N combinations by relying on the “Open Choice Principle” (Sinclair, 1991) or by using patterns from their mother tongue.

Author Biography

María José Luzón Marco
is Senior Lecturer at the Department of English and German Studies (University of Zaragoza, Spain). Her current research interests include corpus analysis (especially the analysis of corpora of academic and professional language and of learner corpora), the analysis of online genres, and the use of new technologies in English language teaching and learning.
How to Cite
Luzón Marco, M. (2011). Exploring atypical verb+noun combinations in learner technical writing. International Journal of English Studies, 11(2), 77-95. https://doi.org/10.6018/ijes/2011/2/149651