Analysis of 50 key words from the BEC: an explanation and example

 

Fifty key words from the BEC were selected and subjected to various forms of analysis. An example of one of the fifty words - business - is presented here. In the example, several different kinds of analysis are shown:

a) Keyness - how key the key word is.

b) Semantic prosody - what lexical/semantic sets the word typically collocates with - collocating groups are shown both to the left of the main word and to the right.

c) 3-word clusters - typical 3-word clusters the word is found in or near.

d) Macro-generic distribution - the range of use of the word across the macro-genres of the BEC shown using the Dispersion Plot function of WordSmith.

e) Colligation - how the word typically behaves grammatically, and what grammatical patterning/meaning correlations there are, using the COBUILD (1995) dictionary as reference.

f) Associates - key words that co-occur with the main word in a number of texts to a statistically significant level.

g) Comments - any comments to be made on the above analyses.

 

EXAMPLE WORD: ‘BUSINESS’

 

a) Keyness

 

The lemma ‘business’ was the most significant key word in the BEC corpus.

 

N

Word

bec freq.

bec lst %

bnc freq.

bnc.lst %

Keyness

P

1

BUSINESS

2,837

0.28

542

0.03

3,557.8

0.000000

 

b) Semantic Prosody

 

Left: A total of 7 groups were identified. However, the positive and negative groups are small and are shown here to contrast positive and negative usage with the word.

 

 

semantic prosody

frequency/ 2,551& %

example

where business takes place

(place)

56  - 2.19%

Indian business

UK business

where business takes place

(macro-level demarcation)

123 - 4.82%

international

world-wide business

overseas business

line of business

222 - 9.86%

telecoms business

hairdressing business

contract hire business

nature of business

(characteristics)

124 - 4.86%

core business

family business

daily business

money/size of business

67 - 2.62%

a high-yield business

big business

small business

positive adjectives

50- 1.96%

successful business

sound business

strong business

negative adjectives

7 - 0.27%

unviable business

cut-throat business

boring business

 

Right: Four groups identified.

 

semantic prosody

frequency/ 2,551& %

example

people and groups of people

145 - 5.68%

business agents

business analyst

business controller

business activities

135 - 5.29 %

business administration

business analysis

business development

institutions, organisations  and companies

129 - 5.05%

business conglomerates

business school

the business press

macro-level demarcation

89 - 3.48%

business area

business sector

business segment

 

 

c) Three-word clusters

 

N

cluster

Freq.

1

of the business

85

2

in the business

63

3

to the business

31

4

the business and

29

5

the business is

29

6

the business English

24

7

for the business

20

8

business and the

19

9

in international business

18

10

the institute for

18

11

a business plan

17

12

for global business

17

13

institute for global

17

14

of business administration

17

15

the business of

16

16

the business plan

14

 

 

d) Macro-generic distribution

 

 

 

* Each file represents one macro-genre found in the BEC

This dispersion plot shows:

File: The rank frequency order of macro-genres where business appeared (thus, for example, business was most frequent in Company Brochures - Combrocs.txt, and second most frequent in UK television programmes - uktv.txt).

Words: The number of words in each macro-genre - one file for each macro-genre.

Hits per 1,000: How many hits of the word business per 1,000 words there were in each macro-genre/file

Plot: Each time the word business occurs in a macro-genre/file it is marked by a small black line, thus showing its distribution of occurrence over all the texts in each macro-genre. For example, in company brochures we see heavy usage at the right-hand side, indicating that business occurred in these texts very often, and less in others, creating an uneven distribution across the company brochures  macro-genre.

 

 

e) Colligation

 

COBUILD Sense 1 (work relating to the buying and selling of goods)

1,351 instances 52.95% of sample

Patterns: Uncount noun

we put together a business plan

... greatly affected the way they did business

carried out in cooperation  with our business partners

 

COBUILD Sense 2 (how many products/services a company is able to sell)

163 instances 6.38% of sample

Patterns: Uncount noun

business fell by a third

 

COBUILD Sense 3 (a company/firm)

523 instances 20.5% of sample

Patterns: Count noun

We go into a business and try and rescue it

You must think of the pros and cons of starting a business from scratch

 

COBUILD Sense 4 (what you do for your job and not for pleasure)

8 instances 0.31% of sample

Patterns: Uncount noun

Travel agencies have special departments dealing with business travel

a business dinner to end all business dinners

 

COBUILD Sense 5 (line of business)

436 instances 17.09% of sample

Patterns: Singular noun

telecoms business, hairdressing business, contract hire business, my line of business

 

COBUILD Sense 7 (important matters you have to deal with)

3 instances 0.11% of sample

Patterns: Uncount noun

conduct the following business, any other business?

 

COBUILD Sense 8 (my own business - no-one else’s concern)

2 instances 0.07% of sample

Patterns: Uncount noun

Its not my business to manage a business

 

COBUILD Sense 9 (an event, situation or activity)

4 instances 0.15% of sample

Patterns: Singular noun

with the forty pound business

the business of lists

the business of making strategic choices

 

COBUILD Sense 10 (an unpleasant or costly task)

3 instances 0.11% of sample

Patterns: Singular noun

Ill health - a costly business

it’s always been a dangerous business

 

 

COBUILD Sense 11 (big business/show business)

big business: 8 instances 0.31% of sample

show business: 1 instance 0.03% of sample

 

COBUILD Sense 12 (do business - companies/people that do business with each other)

13 instances 0.5% of sample

Patterns: Phrase with noun

 

 

 

COBUILD Sense 14 (in business: a company that is currently operating or trading)

9 instances 0.35% of sample

Patterns: verb + link phrase

you’ve already been in business for a period of time

you may find after a year in business that you need bigger premises

 

COBUILD Sense 16 (to mean business)

1 instance 0.03% of sample

Patterns: Verb (inflect)

gives further evidence that Daimler means business

 

COBUILD Sense 20 (out of + business)

8 instances 0.31% of sample

Patterns: phrase after verb

 

 

COBUILD Sense 22 (business as usual)

4 instances 0.15% of sample

Patterns: usually verb link phrase

Business as usual is a common refrain ...

 

ADDITIONAL Senses:

 

Conversational filler:

2 instances 0.07% of sample

all this sort of business

that sort of business, you know. The usual story

 

Other COBUILD entries:

business card: 2 instances

business class: 5 instances

business hours: 5 instances

Other patterns:

 

i) In the BEC, ‘business’ occurs in an end of sentence position 267 times, (10.46% of sample).

‘Business’ in the PMC occurs 157 times (15.49%) of sample.

... to show that we mean business.

... a climate for creativity in business.

 

ii) possessive pronoun + business:

163 instances 6.38% of sample

In the PMC there were 68 instances 6.81% of sample

my own business, your business

 

iii) definite article the + business

485 instances 19.01% of sample

There are links between definite article usage and  COBUILD senses 3 & 5:

The minimum target for the business to survive is £250 million (sense 3)

How did you come into the business then originally, the car business? (sense 5)

 

iv) indefinite article a + business

127 instances 4.97% of sample

There are links between indefinite article usage and  COBUILD Sense 3:

The skills that are needed to start a business

 

Points iii) and iv) above are true except when ‘business’ is used as part of a noun group:

the business community, the business mix for 1993 was 65.5% personal ....

a business magazine

 

v) noun group + of + business (these refer to process/activity/people/place/amount related to business)

150 instances 5.88% of sample

principle place of business, major branch of business, close of business

 

vi) do + business

41 instances 1.6% of sample

This compares to 59 instances in the PMC - 5.81% of sample.

 

f) Associates

 

N

WORD

NO. OF FILES

AS %

1

BUSINESS

109

100.00

2

COMPANY

27

24.77

3

WE

21

19.27

4

CUSTOMER

19

17.43

5

MANAGEMENT

19

17.43

6

BUSINESSES

18

16.51