The Use of Maximizers and Semantic Prosodic Awareness of Tertiary Level Turkish EFL Learners

Ali Şükrü Özbay, Tuncer Aydemir


Intensifiers in English have potential to be a challenge for tertiary level EFL learners especially at times if or when these intensifiers have synonymous meanings and the EFL learners have mixed attitudes towards their prosodic features in use. Having knowledge towards the semantic prosodic nature of the English maximizers is important since, according to Sinclair (1996, p. 86), “the initial choice of SP is the functional choice which links meaning to purpose; all subsequent choices within the lexical item relate back to the prosody”. Thus, it becomes inevitable that the selection of the right lexical items to make meaningful sentences is what is of vital importance for the EFL and ESL learners alike and failure to consider the prosodic nature of these items may result in communication breaks. The aim of this study is to compare the intensifiers such as “absolutely, completely, entirely, fully, perfectly, totally and utterly” in terms of their semantic prosodic nature with 1R adjectives in native and non-native corpora. Although these adverbials are generally regarded as near-synonym words, there are some semantic minor differences among their usages in context. Each of the lexemes creates different collocations positively, negatively and neutrally, and they are associated with various levels of subjectivity. The study focused on these variations, differences and restrictions as well as the collocational ranges of the intensifiers based on two learner corpora named as KTUCALE (Karadeniz Technical University Corpus of Academic Learner English) and BAWE (British Academic Written English), which contain academic essays in nature. In the study, a corpus-based methodology was used, and the use of adverbials in academic essays of university students in KTUCALE was compared to those of native speakers with reference to BAWE and their usage patterns were investigated in terms of semantic prosodic awareness. The findings indicated significant overuses and underuses in the number of the adverbials in KTUCALE and that tertiary level Turkish EFL learners seemed to have produced a limited number of intensifiers with less variety and complexity.

Keywords: KTUCALE, BAWE, Collocation, Semantic prosody, Maximizers, Learner corpus. 

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