LOW

 

a) Keyness

 

The lemma ‘low’ was the two hundred and fifty-third most significant key word in the BEC Corpus.

 

N

Word

bec freq.

bec.lst %

bnc freq.

bnc.lst %

Keyness

P

253

LOW

480

0.05

457

0.02

113.1

0.000000

 

b) Semantic Prosody

 

In both cases here one main group identified. It is noteworthy that the left collocates of low (as with high) are almost entirely referring to some extreme, here again separated in the group by a broken line): exceptionally, a record, a five-year low etc. (46 out of 63 instances - 73.01% of the examples found in the sample).  

 

Left: One group (including extremes) identified:

 

semantic prosody

frequency/ 272 & %

example

how low

(relativity/nature of the low)

63 - 23.16%

artificially low

currently low

extremes

46 - 16.91%

extremely low

exceptionally low

a record low

incredibly low

 

Right: One group identified.

 

semantic prosody

frequency/ 272 & %

example

economic/financial indicators

93 - 34.19 %

low contribution to profit

low unemployment

low cost

low interest rates

 

 

 

c) Three-word clusters

 

N

cluster

Freq.

1

low interest rates

16

2

as low as

10

3

low of #

6

4

so low that

6

5

a record low

5

6

extremely low power

4

7

interest rates and

4

8

is so low

4

9

low as possible

4

10

low power consumption

4

11

on the low

4

12

power consumption in

4

13

to low inflation

4

 

 

d) Macro-generic distribution

 

 

 

e) Colligation

 

Used mostly as an adjective (251 instances - 92.27% of sample) rather than as a noun.

 

COBUILD Sense 2 (close to the ground, sea-level or bottom of something)

6 instances - 2.2% of sample

Patterns: Graded adjective

Enemy low and high-flying aircraft

 

COBUILD Sense 4 (low in amount or degree )

244 instances - 89.7% of sample

Patterns: Graded adjective

low capital cost, stock gets very low, people who have low incomes

 

 

COBUILD Sense 6 (noun - a low)

Patterns: Count noun - often noun-of-amount

21 instances - 7.72% of sample

Oil prices fell to a four-year low

now near an all-time low of 29, down nearly 50 per cent this year

 

COBUILD Sense 8 (low quality/standard)

1 instance - 0.36% of sample

Patterns: Graded adjective

general quality levels are low

 

COBUILD Sense 18 (depressed feeling)

1 instance - 0.36% of sample

Patterns: Graded adjective

sometimes you go home feeling low

 

 

Other COBUILD senses:

 

low-flying:                     4 instances - 1.47% of sample

low lying:                      1 instance - 0.36% of sample

low-paid:                      2 instances - 0.73% of sample

low tech:                       1 instance - 0.36% of sample

 

 

i) A tendency to form part of post-modified compound adjectives:

low-cost, low-margin, low-rate, low-wage

 

ii) as + low + as:

10 instances - 3.67% of sample

 

 

f) Associates

 

The word ‘low’ was key in 3 files. No associates of frequency > =5 were found.

 

Comments

 

1. In many ways high and low have similar uses and patterns in Business English, simply representing different ends of the scale. What has been found here is that low uses the noun form more often than high:

A HIGH: 26 instances - 3.88% of sample

A LOW: 21 instances - 7.72% of sample

 

The number of occurrences is approximately the same, but low is much less used than high, so a low gains a higher (double) percentage of the sample. Some examples are shown below.