Analysis 2: A second set of key words from the PMC was then computed - resulting in Analysis 2 - this time using the BEC as the reference point. The key words formed by this second analysis were those which occurred significantly more frequently in published Business English materials than in the Business English of the BEC. Analysis of these key words, therefore, was able to show how the lexis of published Business English materials differs from the lexis of the real-life Business English found in the BEC. This process of analysis is summarised in the diagram below:

 

 

                       

                        PMC -> (BNC)                                                      PMC -> (BEC)

 

                Published  Business English                              Published Business English

                (General English reference corpus)                   (Real Business reference corpus)                                     

                                                Key Words                           Key Words

 


                                                Analysis                                                Analysis

 


                                                                               

                Comparison of PMC key words:        1) computed using BNC as reference

                                                                                2) computed using BEC as reference

 

Fig. 54  The two-way process of key word analysis of PMC lexis

 

2. Fewer words: The same analytical procedures - semantic prosody, colligation and clusters[196] - carried out on the fifty words in the BEC were carried out on words from the PMC. However, in this case only five words were chosen for comparative analysis. These words were manager, customer, product, market and business. All of these words were in the ten most ‘key’ key words of the PMC (using the BNC as a reference corpus).

 

Four questions were asked of the lexis of the PMC:

 

1. How do the PMC key words define the lexical world of business and how does this definition compare to that shown in the BEC?

2. What semantic prosodies were found in the PMC and do they match or differ from those found in the BEC?

3. What colligational and grammar/meaning patterns were identified in the PMC and how do they compare to those found in the BEC?

4. How do the clusters found in the PMC compare to those in the BEC?

 

Each of these questions will now be discussed in turn, leading to a justification of Hypothesis 2, and a final analysis and answering of the main research question.

 

9.4.1 How do the PMC key words define the lexical world of business and how does this definition compare to that shown in the BEC?

 

The analysis of key words from the PMC in this section is, therefore, carried out in two parts. Firstly, the PMC key words computed from statistical comparison to the BNC are analysed - Analysis 1 shown below - and secondly, the PMC key words gained from statistical comparison to the BEC are analysed - Analysis 2. Final conclusions are then drawn from both sets of analyses.

 

9.4.1.1 Analysis 1:

Key word analysis of the PMC  (with the BNC as the reference corpus)[197]

 

The PMC corpus was lemmatised using the modified lemma list of Someya (1998), and was statistically compared to the lemmatised BNC Sampler corpus using the Log Likelihood statistic (Dunning 1993),  with a p value of p = 0.000001. A key word list was generated and then manually edited to sift out names of people, products, places, currencies and companies. The full key word list can be found on the CD ROM inside the back page of this thesis. The top 100 key words are printed below:

 

TABLE LXIV: THE 100 MOST ‘KEY’ KEY WORDS OF THE PMC (BNC REFERENCE CORPUS)

 

N

WORD

FREQ.

PMC.LST %

FREQ.

BNC.LST %

KEYNESS  Log L.

1

COMPANY

2 045

0.34

782

0.04

3 054.4

2

MARKET

1 478

0.25

831

0.04

1 739.6

3

OUR

2 539

0.43

2 577

0.13

1 687.7

4

SALE

968

0.16

343

0.02

1 501.7

5

PRODUCT

1 006

0.17

412

0.02

1 447.1

6

BUSINESS

1 085

0.18

542

0.03

1 384.9

7

MANAGER

811

0.14

317

0.02

1 196.3

8

PLEASE

1 079

0.18

659

0.03

1 193.0

9

WE

5 837

0.98

10 822

0.55

1 192.7

10

OK

483

0.08

38

 

1 158.5

11

PRICE

949

0.16

586

0.03

1 040.2

12

YOUR

2 949

0.50

4 670

0.24

912.2

13

CUSTOMER

528

0.09

147

 

912.2

14

BANK

694

0.12

379

0.02

833.5

15

EMPLOYEE

411

0.07

94

 

764.6

16

FAX

288

0.05

32

 

649.9

17

YOU

10 587

1.78

26 331

1.34

594.8

18

MEETING

697

0.12

575

0.03

587.8

19

DEPARTMENT

456

0.08

232

0.01

574.8

20

ORDER

747

0.13

681

0.03

564.9

21

CREDIT

342

0.06

110

 

555.2

22

LTD

332

0.06

103

 

547.8

23

AFRAID

358

0.06

145

 

517.9

24

SINCERELY

204

0.03

11

 

514.7

25

JOB

755

0.13

752

0.04

513.2

26

DIRECTOR

464

0.08

289

0.01

504.9

27

OFFICE

568

0.10

461

0.02

487.0

28

PRODUCTION

362

0.06

167

 

485.6

29

THANK

877

0.15

1 015

0.05

484.9

30

INVOICE

203

0.03

17

 

482.1

31

DISCOUNT

225

0.04

36

 

466.6

32

NEW

1 332

0.22

1 995

0.10

465.3

33

UM

168

0.03

4

 

454.7

34

BRAND

270

0.05

82

 

449.6

35

PER

619

0.10

585

0.03

448.7

36

TELEX

167

0.03

6

 

438.7

37

DELIVERY

237

0.04

56

 

435.8

38

TO

17 365

2.93

47 851

2.44

421.0

39

PERSONNEL

219

0.04

50

 

407.6

40

I'M

1 759

0.30

3 136

0.16

401.3

41

ADVERTISE

274

0.05

110

 

398.3

42

ENCLOSE

186

0.03

27

 

395.4

43

SELL

487

0.08

419

0.02

392.7

44

MANAGEMENT

398

0.07

279

0.01

392.2

45

PAYMENT

266

0.04

115

 

370.9

46

INTEREST

716

0.12

865

0.04

370.4

47

FLIGHT

225

0.04

72

 

366.1

48

AGREE

482

0.08

443

0.02

361.0

49

YOURS

302

0.05

166

 

360.9

50

REF

134

0.02

5

 

350.9

51

COST

632

0.11

747

0.04

338.3

52

SUPPLIER

184

0.03

44

 

336.9

53

COMPANY'S

181

0.03

45

 

326.7

54

HELLO

303

0.05

192

 

325.2

55

CORPORATE

164

0.03

33

 

318.3

56

OFFER

481

0.08

491

0.03

316.8

57

MEET

456

0.08

457

0.02

307.5

58

TELEPHONE

270

0.05

159

 

306.8

59

I'D

634

0.11

807

0.04

301.1

60

INTERVIEW

197

0.03

78

 

288.5

61

EXECUTIVE

200

0.03

86

 

279.7

62

INTERNATIONAL

328

0.06

269

0.01

278.2

63

GOOD

1 456

0.25

2 754

0.14

278.0

64

MILLION

443

0.07

473

0.02

274.8

65

CAN

2 545

0.43

5 606

0.29

273.8

66

CONSIGNMENT

91

0.02

0

 

265.7

67

CENT

375

0.06

364

0.02

263.1

68

DATE

386

0.07

389

0.02

258.4

69

UK

288

0.05

224

0.01

257.6

70

EXPORT

173

0.03

67

 

256.3

71

PRESENTATION

168

0.03

62

 

255.2

72

US

1 186

0.20

2 165

0.11

252.5

73

ACCOUNT

488

0.08

593

0.03

250.1

74

HOW

1 385

0.23

2 666

0.14

249.9

75

DEAR

360

0.06

353

0.02

249.5

76

WORK

1 519

0.26

3 009

0.15

248.7

77

SALARY

126

0.02

25

 

245.6

78

SORRY

447

0.08

537

0.03

233.3

79

SURE

501

0.08

652

0.03

229.0

80

CONTRACT

242

0.04

183

 

222.4

81

STAFF

437

0.07

535

0.03

221.3

82

INCREASE

452

0.08

566

0.03

220.6

83

FAITHFULLY

79

0.01

1

 

220.5

84

WILL

2 243

0.38

5 038

0.26

220.3

85

FOR

6 062

1.02

15 996

0.82

217.5

86

SHARE

544

0.09

762

0.04

217.4

87

MACHINE

293

0.05

274

0.01

215.0

88

MR

1 041

0.18

1 920

0.10

214.8

89

MANUFACTURE

199

0.03

126

 

213.7

90

FINANCE

192

0.03

117

 

212.5

91

FIRM

286

0.05

265

0.01

212.2

92

CLOTHES

72

0.01

0

 

210.2

93

YEAR

1 532

0.26

3 184

0.16

210.1

94

PERFORMANCE

229

0.04

175

 

208.4

95

MANUFACTURER

138

0.02

53

 

205.4

96

OPTION

195

0.03

128

 

203.3

97

CASH

191

0.03

124

 

200.9

98

PROBLEM

697

0.12

1 136

0.06

200.9

99

GOODBYE

103

0.02

21

 

199.1

100

CLIENT

191

0.03

126

 

198.3

 

 

A first look reveals the presence of a large number (47 - shown above shaded in grey) of business-related words, which indicates that business lexis features high in the PMC, i.e. it occurs more often than would be expected in general English. Also present are several words that would not look out of place in business, for example, fax, flight, offer, meet, presentation and increase. However, there is also a third prominent group of words related to interpersonal contact, obviously in both spoken and written form, for example, please, afraid, sincerely, thank, enclose, agree, hello, meet, dear, sorry, goodbye. This very cursory look at the most ‘key’ key words shows a trend that will be returned to regularly in this part of the chapter - business is seen in the materials very much in a personal context. Relationships between people are used to generate the business situations presented in the books, in the same way that novelists create a character that their readers can identify with. A further category of key words - personal/possessive pronouns - confirms this - our, we, you, I’m, I’d - all lexis commonly used in reference to people.[198] This may well be an unavoidable compromise in writing to make the materials more interesting, but at the same time it exposes students to lexis that is often the very opposite of what was discovered about business lexis through analysis of the BEC. These initial comments need more explanation, and the following section will do just that.

 

In order to further analyse the key words of the PMC, they were categorised by word class using the system of Ljung (1990), and then, as with the BEC, each word class was further analysed and placed into semantic categories. Fig. 55 below shows the key words computed from the PMC divided by word class (see Appendices 13 and 14 in Vol. II for a full grammatical and semantic categorisation of these key words). Each entry shows the number of words found in each word class:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig.55 Distribution of key words by word class in the PMC (BNC reference)

 

a) Nouns

 

The semantic categorisation of the positive key word nouns in the PMC (BNC reference) was very similar to that of the BEC. In all, ten categories were identified, of which nine were the same as in the BEC; people, institutions, activities, things, states & qualities, amounts & measures, places, events and money; and a new category - food. For reference, this is presented below in the diagram:

 

people                                             food                                              states & qualities

 


institutions                                                                                             amounts & measures

                                                Positive nouns

activities                                   PMC -> (BNC)                                   places  

           

things                                               money                                           events

 

Fig. 56 Semantic categorisation of positive key nouns PMC -> BNC

 

People: This was the second largest category of  nouns (66 instances- 21% of the nouns) found and displayed a high level of business-relatedness - 58 people out of 66 instances in the sample. The most ‘key’ were manager, customer, employee, director, personnel and management. The ten non-business people found here were inhabitant, participant, person, homemakers, exhibitor, travelers,[199] westerner, analyst, royalty and technician. Thus, business-related people constituted 87.88% of the sample, comparing favourably to the similar category in the BEC, where business-related people were 86.56% of the sample.

 

Institutions: This was a small category (14 instances - 4% of the nouns) where the words referred to types of institution, for example, company, organisation, plc, corporation, agency and conglomerate. The corresponding institutions category in the BEC was much larger - 8% of key nouns in the BEC as opposed to 4% in the PMC - and more varied in its contents compared to the examples of institutions found here. This points to a much broader lexical view of business in real-life than is found in the materials.

 

Activities: The activities (17 instances - 5% of the nouns), like the similar category in the BEC, were either pure business, for example, business, production, investment, downsizing, outplacement, overtime, or words that could fit into the business environment, for example, appraisal, expansion, selection. Also found here were clear non-business activities such as sport and politics.

 

Things: This was the largest category of nouns (113 instances - 37% of the nouns).  It could be divided into tangibles (87 instances - 76% of the category), e.g. product, clothes, insurance, vehicle, computer, and more abstract words (26 instances - 23% of the category) such as idea, culture, opinion. Several points can be raised about the nouns in   the things section.

 

·      There was a distinct group of business words - product, industry, industry, TQM, GDP and waybill, for example. Likewise, a group of words in the ‘semi-business’ category, i.e. they would not be out of place in business, but were not pure business words, for example, performance, insurance, equipment, objective and software.

·      There was also a group of completely non-business-related nouns, for example, vehicle, term, moment, name, TV, street, car, boulevard, morning and language.

·      Significantly, there was a higher concentration of abstract lexis in this category of the PMC when compared to the same category in the BEC. In the BEC things category, there was a ratio of  84% tangible - 16% abstract nouns, and in the PMC, 76% tangible  -  23% abstract nouns.

 

States & qualities: This PMC category was relatively smaller than the corresponding BEC category - (PMC: 16 instances - 5% of key nouns sample / BEC: 43 instances - 9% of sample) - and showed a mixture of both positive and negative states: success, pleasure, growth, as opposed to inflation, bankruptcy, redundant and inconvenience. Two key differences can be discerned between the nouns in this category of the PMC and those in the BEC. Firstly, as noted above, the difference category size. Secondly, the BEC displayed overwhelmingly positive/neutral states and qualities - (84% of the sample) - with only 6 nouns being negative in connotation (16%). In the PMC, negative states accounted for 25% of the sample. This may be indicative of an over-emphasis in the materials on the problems faced in business that, whilst certainly present in real business life, would not occur in such a high concentration. An example is shown below using the word inconvenience, where it is clearly being taught for both written and spoken situations as part of the function of apologising:

 

 

Three categories that were found in both corpora (PMC and BEC) - measures & amounts, places and events, were all quite similar in size. However, the biggest of these three categories in the BEC was events, whilst in the PMC it was places.

 

Measures & Amounts: It was noted in the BEC that the only key amounts were at the high end - million, billion, trillion - and the most key noun in the measures category in the BEC was billion. In the PMC, the most key word in this category was million and, although billion was also key in the PMC, trillion was not. This suggests that examples of money-related matters tend to be kept to lower, more everyday amounts in published materials, whereas in real business life, much higher numbers are more common.  This is confirmed by that fact that the word hundreds was a positive key word in the PMC, and hundred was, in fact, a negative key word in the BEC.

 

In the places section, whilst many words were purely business-related - department, office, factory - there were also several words where the entertaining and travel aspects of business came to the fore - hotel, restaurant, airport - and some words with no real business connection, for instance, crèche, metro and country. The events category is notable for the number of negative events - theft, recession, breakdown, downturn - which although few, actually make up 28% of the category. This was not found in the BEC, where only one[200] clearly negative event was found - bankruptcy (4.34% of the category).

 

Thus, analysis of these three categories showed the following.

 

·      In the PMC there is an emphasis on naming places - 6.57% of nouns in the PMC are related to place names, compared to only 3.2% in the BEC.

·      In the PMC there is slightly less emphasis on events - 4% of nouns in the PMC related to events compared to 5% in the BEC.

·      Negative events nouns are more featured in the PMC than in the BEC - 28% to 4%.

 

The remaining categories, food and money, showed a preoccupation in the materials with tangible situations.

 

Food: The inclusion of food-related lexis, for example, pasta, sauce, dessert and chocolate, indicated once again the focus on entertaining in the materials. Examples of the usage of the word meal can be seen here:

 

 

Money: There was slightly less focus in the PMC on money/finance than was found in the key nouns of the BEC. Reference to money matters in the PMC amounted to only 5% of the key nouns, whereas in the BEC it constituted 9% This was a surprising result, as money is such a central part of business, and an aspect of the business world that materials writers must all have personal experience of.

 

In addition to the categories considered so far, there was also one semantic category of key nouns that was present in the BEC, but missing from the PMC - technology & computers. This was a relatively small category in the BEC - just 4% of key nouns - but its absence from the PMC can be seen as significant. The absence is, at least, partially explained by the fact that the most recent book in the PMC was published in 1996, meaning that the impact of computers had not had time to reach the materials. However, it is another example of the lexical limitation of the PMC, where a key aspect of business life is not reflected in the materials.[201] 

 

In summary, several points can be raised about the nouns in the PMC.

·      The nouns form similar semantic groups in the PMC compared to those found in the BEC, but there is greater focus in the PMC on the lexis of entertaining and travel. This, however, is not surprising in itself, as entertaining/travel situations were not part of the BEC.

·      The nouns in the BEC were more evenly spread throughout the categories. In the PMC two main categories - people and things -  accounted for the majority of the nouns (60%). Consequently, there was less lexical diversity in the PMC than the BEC, for example, shown by the institutions category (4% of the key nouns sample in the PMC and 8% in the BEC).

·      The key nouns in the PMC were mostly tangible, and the amount of states and qualities referred to by the nouns was slightly less in the PMC (5%) than in the BEC (9%). However, more abstract lexis was found in the things section of the PMC compared to the corresponding category in the BEC. 

·      More negative lexis was found in these nouns than in the corresponding sections in the BEC. This is exemplified by the events category where 28% of PMC events were negative (e.g. theft, recession, breakdown), matched to only 4% of BEC events.

·      Measures & amounts found to be key here referred to lower numbers (e.g. hundreds, million) than those found to be key in the BEC. This suggests that the PMC has brought numbers more down to the ‘everyday’ level, whereas the BEC focuses more on high-level numbers related, perhaps, to big business.

·      The PMC focused less on key words associated with money/finance - only 5% of PMC key nouns compared with 9% of BEC key nouns.  

 

b) Verbs

 

TABLE LXV: SEMANTIC CATEGORISATION OF PMC KEY WORD VERBS

 

Negative

Neutral

Work/

Business

Possibility/

Necessity

Inter

personal

Personal

Running a business

complicates

arrive

advertise

could

please

prefer

send

plummet

prepare

enclose

would

thank

enjoy

arrange

 

let

sell

needn’t

agree

 

receive

Positive

make

manage

should

meet

 

accept

 

underlie

confirm

mustn’t

discuss

 

send

excite

accompanies

deliver

 

speak

 

develop

expand

wiped

invest

Technology

introduce

 

specialize

appreciate

settle

install

 

inform

 

locate

improve

 

employ

automate

advise

 

operate

solve

 

repay

 

recommend

 

unload

 

 

hire

 

motivate

 

redesign

 

 

despatch

 

expect

 

reorganize

 

 

diversify

 

summarise

 

recycle

 

 

promote

 

interrupt

 

 

 

 

 

 

explain

 

 

 

 

 

 

suggest

 

 

 

 

 

 

mis-

understand

 

 

 

 

 

 

ask

 

 

 

 

 

 

instruct

 

 

 

If the key nouns found in the PMC could be considered similar to those in the BEC, the same could not be said of the verbs to the same extent. In all, nine semantic categories were found for the key verbs of the PMC, eight of which were also found in the BEC: negative, neutral, work/business, technology, running a business, positive, interpersonal and personal but also a new category - possibility/necessity.  The verbs are shown in full above with the new category shown in italics.

 

There are, indeed, similarities between the PMC key verbs here and those in the BEC. As was seen above, eight of the semantic categories can be related to similar categories in the BEC. However, there are several important differences between the verbs found here and those in the key verb category in the BEC.

 

·      In the BEC, the verbs in the running a business category constituted by far the biggest category (38 instances - 40% of the verbs). When these verbs were added to the second largest category of BEC verbs - work/business - the total of business-related key verbs in the BEC accounted for 65.59% of the sample. In contrast, in the PMC, business-related verbs amounted to a little under 40%. Thus, verbs that are actually of central importance to learners, pure business verbs, e.g. negotiate, shelve, merge and sub-business verbs, i.e. verbs to describe the surrounding activities/actions of business, e.g. comply, propose, expand, ensure - are lacking in both number and significance in the materials.

 

·      In the PMC, verbs concerned with interpersonal communication constitute the single largest group of key verbs (19 instances - 27% of the sample), e.g. please, thank, agree, meet. This contrasts with BEC key verbs, where the corresponding interpersonal category amounted to only 10% of the sample. Thus, the private verbs of Biber (1988) - relating to personal and emotive states - are stressed here, where they were not stressed in the BEC positive key verbs. This theme of materials’ over-representation of personal lexis will be returned to later in this section.

 

The verbs also displayed a preoccupation with possibility and necessity with inclusion of modals could, would, should and negatives needn’t and mustn’t. The fact that these verbs were key results at least partly from the following:

 

a focus on requests (here using the example of the word could);

 

 

on polite phrases, also including requests found in the materials;

 

 

and business possibilities, for example, in negotiations;

 

 

Thus, business lexis found in the BEC used these types of verbs significantly less and the PMC used the same types of verbs specifically more. The key verbs in the PMC, therefore, present a different reality from that found in the BEC.

 

In summary of the verbs section, the following points can be made.

 

·      The verbs in the PMC were more concerned with the personal and interpersonal. It will be also remembered that it was just these categories (personal, interpersonal) that were so central to the negative key words in the BEC. This means that those aspects of lexis deliberately used less in the business world as presented by the BEC are deliberately used more in the PMC.

·      There is a strong focus on the possible and polite.

·      Whilst business-related verbs in total represent the biggest group of verbs - i.e. if the work/business and running a business categories are added together - they are still, proportionally, 26% less than the same categories in the BEC key verbs.

 

c) Adjectives

 

The semantic categories of adjectives employed in the BEC were again used in the PMC: size/speed, places, positive, negative, neutral, work/business, money, technology and time. There were similarities between the two sets of adjectives, for example, the proportion of key adjectives in each category was similar (9% of all key words in the PMC to 11% in the BEC). However, there were also differences. There were proportionally more negative adjectives in the PMC (7% of the sample) than the BEC (2% of the sample). This negative PMC category included two quite personal adjectives, tiring and depressing,[202] which are in contrast to the non-emotive language of the BEC. The two other negative adjectives, afraid and sorry, appear for very specific reasons. Afraid is found in the PMC almost entirely in the combination I’m afraid as a warning discourse marker of bad news coming (349 instances out of 358 - 97% of all occurrences in 30 books):

Likewise, sorry appears largely as part of the materials’ preoccupation with apologising and politeness:

 

The adjectives in the PMC, then, fall into the same semantic categories as the BEC, but are much more limited in scope. The highest frequencies of adjectives were taken up by the repetition of certain set phrases, for example,  I’m sorry to trouble you, I’m afraid, that do occur in real life, but are here over-stressed in relation to reality - at least the version of business reality presented by the BEC.

 

d) Noun/verbs

 

As with the adjectives, the semantic groups for noun/verbs found in the BEC could be applied to the PMC: places & people, communication, positive, negative, neutral, work/business, money, technology, running a business and time.

·      In the PMC, the work/business noun/verbs were the largest group (35 instances - 23% of the category), whereas in the BEC it was neutral noun/verbs that represented the largest group (53 instances - 26% of the category).

·      The running a business group of noun/verbs was proportionally slightly smaller in the PMC than in the BEC (16% in the PMC to 17% in the BEC). In the PMC there were more negative noun/verbs than positive (6 negative - 5 positive), in the BEC this was the opposite way around (4 positive - 3 negative). Thus, again there were proportionally more negative attributes noted by the PMC (6 instances) as opposed to only 3 instances in the BEC, which was double the size.

·      Again in evidence was a large number of noun/verbs related to money and finance, showing that they have both a nominal and verbal function in Business English.

·      In all, this group was relatively similar to that found in the BEC and showed a high degree of business-related lexis. In fact overall, business-related lexis accounted for 39% of the group (as opposed to 35% in the BEC), and there was only slightly less sub-business lexis than that found in the BEC.

 

The noun/verb PMC-BEC differences are summarised in the table below:

 

 

 

 

TABLE LXVI: NOUN/VERB PMC-BEC DIFFERENCES

 

PMC nouns/verbs

BEC nouns/verbs

Largest group: work/business 35 - 23%

Largest group: neutral  52 - 26%

Running business category: smaller - 16%

Running business category: larger 17%

More negative than positive n/v: 6 negative words

More positive than negative n/v: 3 negative words

Overall more business-related lexis: 39%

Overall less business-related lexis: 35%

 

 

9.4.1.2 Discussion: results of Analysis 1

 

The main title of this section asked how key words computed from the PMC lexically demarcated the world of business. The world of business created by the PMC key words can be seen in the diagram below:

 

 

people                                                personal                                     positives

money                                                  PMC                                       negatives

                                                            Business

things                                                    English                                    interpersonal

 


running a business                                                                                 politeness

 

institutions                                 measurements & amounts                     travel/entertaining

 

 

Fig. 57  The lexical world of Business English as found in the PMC (BNC reference corpus)

 

Semantically, the groups formed from the key words in the PMC in Analysis 1 were focused on business or business-related matters, and there was a stress on travel and entertaining, interpersonal communication and a relatively even distribution between positive and negative lexis. There was also a stress on the possible and the polite. When compared to the key word categories found for the BEC the similarities and differences can be summarised as follows.

 

·      Semantic groups: Similar semantic groups were identified into which the key lexis of the PMC could be fitted.

·      Personal and interpersonal lexis: The key lexis in the PMC was more concerned with personal and interpersonal lexis, especially in the verbs category - thank, agree, discuss, prefer, enjoy - than key lexis found in the BEC.

·      Positive and negative lexis: The balance between positive and negative lexis in the PMC is in contrast to the BEC, where more positive language was found.

·      Tangible vs abstract: In one large noun category - things - there was slightly less emphasis on tangibles in the PMC than in the BEC - though both sets of key words are very tangible-oriented. Conversely, slightly fewer states & qualities were expressed in the PMC than in the BEC.

·      Verbs vs noun/verbs: The PMC displayed fewer verbs related to work/business and running a business (39% of the PMC sample as opposed to 65.59% of the same category in the BEC). However, the PMC used proportionally more noun/verbs for the same purpose. Whilst there were slightly more pure business noun/verbs in the BEC (BEC 17% - PMC 16%), overall business-related noun-verbs were more frequent in the PMC than in the BEC (PMC 39% - BEC 35%). Thus, proportionally, the PMC tended to express business concepts more through use of noun/verbs and less through use of verbs. In contrast, the BEC used noun/verbs slightly less to express business-related lexis, but used pure verbs more.

 

The fact that published materials express business-related ideas more through noun/verbs, whilst real business favours pure verbs, is interesting. It may represent a narrower base of business activities in the materials, or it may reflect the predilection of materials writers on naming aspects of business, as opposed to the language needed for doing business. This is reinforced by Lewis’s (1993:39) observation that ‘Language teachers, usually accidentally, see vocabulary largely in terms of nouns’. Lewis admitted (personal communication 2000) that his observation was only based on his personal experience and not empirical analysis, but the comparative data of the PMC and BEC confirms his observation. This would suggest that there needs to be a greater focus on verbs in Business English teaching materials than is found at present.

 

Throughout this last section, reference has been made back to the key words of the BEC and how the key words of the PMC compared to them when both sets of key words were computed using the same reference corpus (the BNC). The next stage of the study continues with Analysis 2, by studying the key words found in the PMC computed by statistical reference to the BEC, rather than the BNC. After this analysis, conclusions can be reached as to the main lexical differences between the PMC and the BEC.

 

9.4.1.3 Analysis 2:

Key word analysis of the PMC  (with the BEC as the reference corpus)

 

The analysis carried out above examined the key words of Business English found in the PMC. It thus presented the world of business lexis as seen through the eyes of materials writers. The second key word analysis carried out, took as the starting point two sets of  Business English: real-life Business English (the BEC) and the Business English found in the PMC. By statistically comparing the two corpora, it was possible to see which aspects of business lexis were stressed in the PMC, i.e. what materials writers consider important language to include in their books. This part of the study is similar to that carried out by Ljung (1990), when he compared his corpus of EFL written teaching materials to the COBUILD corpus. Ljung used frequency as the basis for analysis, that is, he took the top 1,000 words of the two corpora and compared frequency of use in his corpus to that found in COBUILD. He established a difference coefficient (based on the work of Yule 1944) to show if a word had been over- or under-represented in the materials corpus.

 

Whilst Ljung’s work was valuable, and helped form the structure of this thesis, it was felt at the outset that a focus on key words rather than frequency would produce more reliable, and hopefully, interesting results. The results of the comparison of the PMC to the BEC show, therefore, the lexis that is over-represented in the PMC - the lexis that occurs to an unusual level of frequency as compared to the BEC.[203] Thus the main lexical interest and focus of the PMC could be determined.

 

It was stated in Hypothesis 2 that the two sets of lexis formed from the two corpora would be significantly different. This was indeed found to be the case, and the rest of this section exemplifies and discusses the differences found.

 

As with the previous analyses above, the PMC corpus was lemmatised using the modified lemma list of Someya (1998) and was statistically compared to the lemmatised BEC using the log likelihood statistic (Dunning 1993), with a p value of p = 0.000001. A key word list was generated and manually edited to sift out names of people, products, places, currencies, and companies. The full key word list can be found on the CD ROM in the back page of this thesis. The top 100 key words are printed below:

 

TABLE LXVII:  THE 100 MOST ‘KEY’ KEY WORDS OF THE PMC (BEC REFERENCE CORPUS)

 

N

WORD

PMC FREQ.

PMC.LST %

BEC FREQ.

BEC.LST %

KEYNESS

Log L.

1

YOU

10 587

1.78

10 133

0.99

1 800.6

2

I'M

1 759

0.30

930

0.09

910.3

3

YOUR

2 949

0.50

2 409

0.24

744.2

4

I'D

634

0.11

129

0.01

695.8

5

AFRAID

358

0.06

38

 

502.1

6

ME

1 399

0.24

978

0.10

479.4

7

OUR

2 539

0.43

2 342

0.23

474.7

8

MY

1 240

0.21

861

0.08

429.9

9

THANK

877

0.15

502

0.05

409.1

10

PLEASE

1 079

0.18

715

0.07

404.7

11

SORRY

447

0.08

166

0.02

331.9

12

LIKE

1 666

0.28

1 555

0.15

301.1

13

I'LL

721

0.12

461

0.05

286.2

14

WE

5 837

0.98

7 492

0.73

284.0

15

FLIGHT

225

0.04

38

 

268.6

16

COULD

1 317

0.22

1 176

0.11

268.0

17

ABOUT

2 096

0.35

2 222

0.22

252.3

18

GOOD

1 456

0.25

1 386

0.14

248.7

19

SEE

1 398

0.24

1 360

0.13

223.9

20

HOW

1 385

0.23

1 351

0.13

220.0

21

CAN

2 545

0.43

2 947

0.29

213.9

22

TELEX

167

0.03

25

 

209.1

23

YOURS

302

0.05

134

0.01

190.0

24

LETTER

356

0.06

185

0.02

187.9

25

LTD

332

0.06

163

0.02

187.3

26

JOB

755

0.13

627

0.06

183.1

27

MEET

456

0.08

294

0.03

178.6

28

MRS

161

0.03

33

 

176.0

29

MORNING

328

0.06

174

0.02

168.8

30

GOODBYE

103

0.02

6

 

165.5

31

MR

1 041

0.18

1 025

0.10

160.5

32

MANAGER

811

0.14

742

0.07

154.7

33

LET'S

274

0.05

135

0.01

154.0

34

PERSONNEL

219

0.04

90

 

148.5

35

LUNCH

167

0.03

52

 

142.3

36

TELL

527

0.09

419

0.04

140.7

37

DEPARTMENT

456

0.08

339

0.03

139.4

38

SINCERELY

204

0.03

84

 

138.1

39

HELLO

303

0.05

177

0.02

137.4

40

OKAY

89

0.02

7

 

134.7

41

FINE

315

0.05

193

0.02

133.4

42

ADVERTISE

274

0.05

154

0.02

130.9

43

SURE

501

0.08

403

0.04

130.4

44

NAME

510

0.09

414

0.04

130.1

45

SIR

191

0.03

81

 

125.7

46

US

1 186

0.20

1 300

0.13

125.6

47

DRINK

180

0.03

72

 

125.2

48

EMPLOYEE

411

0.07

307

0.03

124.5

49

AIRPORT

122

0.02

29

 

123.4

50

MACHINE

293

0.05

182

0.02

121.5

51

INTERVIEW

197

0.03

92

 

117.5

52

OH

544

0.09

475

0.05

117.1

53

CHOCOLATE

69

0.01

3

 

116.1

54

NICE

204

0.03

100

 

115.3

55

HEAR

271

0.05

167

0.02

113.7

56

TOO

520

0.09

452

0.04

113.2

57

PRODUCTION

362

0.06

267

0.03

112.3

58

COURSE

591

0.10

546

0.05

109.8

59

CONSIGNMENT

91

0.02

15

 

109.7

60

AH

134

0.02

45

 

107.9

61

POINT

692

0.12

679

0.07

107.8

62

ARRIVE

208

0.04

112

0.01

105.0

63

LEAVE

436

0.07

369

0.04

101.2

64

FIRST

919

0.15

1 011

0.10

95.9

65

ENCLOSE

186

0.03

99

 

95.3

66

IDEA

427

0.07

369

0.04

94.2

67

VERY

1 362

0.23

1 642

0.16

94.0

68

QUESTION

454

0.08

404

0.04

93.1

69

LET

373

0.06

306

0.03

93.0

70

LOOK

1 045

0.18

1 197

0.12

92.0

71

ASK

539

0.09

515

0.05

91.0

72

MISS

146

0.02

66

 

90.1

73

HOUR

350

0.06

285

0.03

88.7

74

PREMISE

44

0

 

 

88.2

75

MMM

44

0

 

 

88.2

76

SPEAK

351

0.06

288

0.03

87.4

77

TAKE

1 269

0.21

1 543

0.15

83.8

78

MEETING

697

0.12

739

0.07

83.7

79

FACTORY

199

0.03

123

0.01

83.1

80

ENJOY

163

0.03

88

 

82.0

81

HERE

719

0.12

773

0.08

82.0

82

PRESENTATION

168

0.03

93

 

81.9

83

WORKER

176

0.03

102

 

80.7

84

FIGURE

326

0.05

269

0.03

80.2

85

EXCUSE

91

0.02

27

 

80.2

86

AFTERNOON

146

0.02

74

 

79.4

87

MANPOWER

62

0.01

9

 

78.5

88

DEAR

360

0.06

316

0.03

76.4

89

ROAD

231

0.04

165

0.02

76.1

90

AGREE

482

0.08

472

0.05

75.6

91

INTEREST

716

0.12

789

0.08

74.2

92

CAN'T

408

0.07

381

0.04

73.5

93

MEAL

75

0.01

19

 

73.1

94

STAFF

437

0.07

419

0.04

73.0

95

DISCOUNT

225

0.04

163

0.02

72.2

96

ADVERTISEMENT

65

0.01

13

 

71.9

97

FAITHFULLY

79

0.01

23

 

70.5

98

SEAT

91

0.02

33

 

68.9

99

SOON

249

0.04

199

0.02

65.7

100

CANDIDATE

132

0.02

72

 

65.6

 

It can be noticed immediately that this list is significantly different from both the BEC key word list seen in Section 9.3.1.2 and the PMC (BNC reference) key word list noted earlier in Section 9.4.1.1.  If it can be assumed that both the PMC and the BEC are rich in business lexis, the frequency of this lexis should cancel itself out. That is, if the business lexis is frequent in both corpora it will not show up as statistically key. What is left, then, is the lexis that is significantly more frequent in the PMC than in the BEC. The business lexis found to be key here was, for example,  ltd, job, manager, personnel, department, advertise, employee, production, consignment, factory, worker, manpower, staff and advertisement. Thus, these are the business words that appear significantly more in the PMC than in the BEC, showing the materials writers’ favoured business lexis.  More apparent than this, though, is a preponderance of the lexis of politeness, travel, correspondence and interpersonal communication. In order to further analyse this lexis, the key words were categorised by word class using the system of Ljung (1990), shown below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig. 58 Distribution of key words by word class in the PMC (BEC reference)

 

Then, as with the BEC, each word class was further analysed and placed into semantic categories. These will now be looked at briefly in turn (see Appendices 15 and 16 in Vol. II for full grammatical and semantic categorisation of the PMC - BEC reference - key words).

 

a) Nouns

 

The nouns in this part of the analysis could be divided into semantic groups similar to those of the BEC, but with three new with new categories - travel, time and food - shown below in italics:

 

people                                        institutions                                           time    

things                                           Key Nouns                                      activities & events

 


travel                                   states & qualities   food                 places

 

 

Fig. 59 Semantic categorisation of  PMC key word nouns (BEC reference)

 

 

The nouns, and indeed the other lexis in the PMC, exhibited a consistent focus on certain limited aspects of business life. Whilst six of the nominal semantic categories found in the PMC were the same as in the BEC, they were much reduced in size, and an over-representation of time, travel and food was found. 

 

People: This was the second largest group of key nouns in the PMC (35 words - 24%). It showed both a large number of business-related people - manager, personnel, employee, worker, director (22 words- 62% of the category sample) - but also a stress on many non-business-related people (9 words - 25% of the category sample), e.g. inhabitant, woman, population, homemakers, wife, grocers, son, papa and doctor. Also present were a number of titles related to people - Mrs, Mr, sir, ma’am and madam, with Mrs and Mr being the most key references to people in the sample. The materials, then, see this area of business in terms of certain key jobs - for example, manager, director, supervisor and importer - and in terms of the correct form of addressing the people in both spoken and written situations:

 

It is interesting to note that the materials make a distinct effort to mention women, with Mrs, ma’am and madam all being key words in the PMC. Even where the business situation is predominantly male, women are brought into the conversation. The result of this female focus, however, does not eradicate sexism in the PMC, but often continues to place women in a non-business environment, as can be seen in the examples below:

 

 

What is significant about the nouns in general is the fact that aspects of the negative key nouns in the BEC are positive key words in the PMC. The analysis of the BEC showed that Business English is lexically demarcated from lexis concerned with family and society, i.e. family and society-related lexis occurs far less in Business English than in everyday English. The PMC, in contrast, over-represents this language, e.g. wife, son, doctor, papa. It seems to be a result of materials trying to contextualise situations and placing emphasis on social situations.

 

Only three institutions were key: EC, company and EEC, and whilst the activities & events category was also small (15 nouns - 10% of key nouns) it showed the focus of Business English materials in terms of what they consider happens often in business well, for example,  production, meeting, presentation, franchising, promotion, recession, shipment and recruitment. Also present were non-business-related nouns - theft, accident and birth. These negative events - theft, accident - continue the theme noted in the earlier analysis, whereby negative aspects were much more heavily present in the PMC than in the BEC. It may be that an emphasis on dramatic situations in the materials is a result of attempts to liven up the materials for students:

 

 

Things: This was the largest group of key nouns in the PMC (38 - 26% of key nouns) and displayed a high degree of tangibles:  letter, job, consignment, advertisement. Only two possible intangible nouns could be identified - idea and  tactic - meaning that in this category 95% of the nouns were tangible. Business and non-business-related items were both present. The business items again show the business world as presented by writers: letter, job, advertisement, flexitime, cheque,  fringe (benefits), employment, product, quota and memo. There is also a number of non-business lexis here - idea, diamond, documentary, furniture, sweater, scarf, perfume and cliff - though arguably some of these are products in their own right. Also included in the non-business lexis was the word problem. Thus the preoccupation with problems continues:

 

 

The two remaining categories that were the same in the BEC, states & qualities and places, were both small.

 

States & qualities: This category consisted of only 3 nouns - pleasure, probability and maternity - amounting to only 2% of the key nouns. This contrasts with 43 states & qualities (9.7% of the sample) found in the BEC key word nouns. This distinct lack of lexis relating to states and qualities, and the over representation of tangibles noted earlier, shows features discussed by Ljung (1990). Ljung, in his comparison of EFL materials and real-life English - from COBUILD - had noted an under-representation in the EFL materials of the abstract, and an over-emphasis on the concrete: ‘the proportions between the abstract and concrete, between complicated and simple, have been skewed in the direction of the concrete and simple’ (Ljung 1990:17).

 

Places: The places category of the PMC focused on typical places of business, for example, department, factory, office and warehouse, and also on aspects of food/entertaining, for example, canteen, theatre.

 

Two of the three new nominal categories in the PMC continued this food/entertaining theme to distinguish central aspects of Business English materials - time, travel and food. This resulted from the fact that virtually all the books contained reference to business entertaining and travel. As has already been stated, no entertaining or travel situations were included in the BEC, so a direct comparison is not possible, but the fact that these semantic categories appeared - even when using the BNC as a reference point food formed a distinct semantic group in the PMC nouns -  helps us to gain an overall view of business as seen through the eyes of materials writers.

 

In summary of the noun section, a picture of the lexical business world found in materials started to emerge. In the PMC a typical business person is a manager, employee or worker. They work in a department, factory or office and their key activities are concerned with production, courses, meetings and presentations. Key events include promotion, and time, food and travel are central to their life. This is summarised in the diagram below:

           

 

Fig.60  The business world found in the key nouns of Business English teaching materials

 

 

This is, of course, an over-simplification, but it does give an overview of the semantic categories found in the PMC and some of the lexis contained within them.

 

b) Verbs

 

As these were quite few in number they can be shown in full:

 

TABLE LXVIII: PMC POSITIVE KEY VERBS (BEC REFERENCE)

 

Neutral

Inter-

personal

Work/

Business

Negative & Modals

Personal

Technology

Running a business

do

thank

advertise

could

see

automate

enclose

settle

please

 

can’t

arrive

 

arrange

accompanies

meet

 

would

let

 

specialize

eat

tell

 

mustn’t

take

 

 

wiped

hear

 

needn’t

enjoy

 

 

 

ask

 

don’t

dislike

 

 

 

speak

 

won’t

prefer

 

 

 

agree

 

 

accept

 

 

 

interrupt

 

 

appreciate

 

 

 

apologize

 

 

 

 

 

 

introduce

 

 

 

 

 

 

recap

 

 

 

 

 

The positive key verbs of the PMC shown above are similar to the negative key verb categorisations of the BEC, shown here again for comparison:

 

TABLE LXIX: BEC NEGATIVE KEY VERBS

 

Negatives & Modals

Neutral

Personal

Interpersonal

didn’t

get

know

say

can’t

gonna

see

tell

couldn’t

do

eat

hear

haven’t

come

remember

lie

wasn’t

put

die

marry

could

read

pray

elect

won’t

wear

sit

listen

weren’t

hang

think

ask

wouldn’t

burn

wanna

pretend

isn’t

fetch

feel

 

hasn’t

have

suppose

 

 

seem

born

 

 

 

tire

 

 

 

forget

 

 

 

condemn

 

 

 

reckon

 

 

 

observe

 

 

 

It can be seen that three categories are the same in the two sets of data - personal, interpersonal and negatives & modals. Thus, the language being stressed in the materials is focused around personal and interpersonal verbs, for example, know, see, eat, remember, arrive, let, take, and enjoy. There is also a focus on possibility and necessity, e.g. could, can, can’t and would. This may be explained by the fact that the writers have attempted to personalise the materials - that is, a link is created between the student and the business situations by showing on-going dialogues/situations between people. An example is shown below with the word remember:

 

 

This over-representation of personal and interpersonal lexis contrasts with a low number of PMC verbs related to business. Only 4 verbs were found - advertise, enclose, arrange and specialize - which is in marked contrast to the key verbs of the BEC where business-related verbs accounted for 66% of the sample. In sum, the studies carried out here on verbal usage in the PMC find it to be distinctly lacking in sub-business vocabulary - which common sense dictates should be the verbs to be stressed, if not over-stressed. Instead, a high number of personal and interpersonal verbs, and those often used in polite phrases, e.g. can, could, would, were the main focus of attention.

 

c) Adjectives

 

The notable feature of the BEC positive key word adjectives was the number of words with a positive semantic connotation, for example, new, best, successful, available and relevant. Here, in the PMC, as seen below, the largest group of adjectives is negative:

 

TABLE LXX: PMC POSITIVE KEY ADJECTIVES (BEC REFERENCE)

 

Places

Positive

Negative

Neutral

Work/

Business

abroad

good

afraid

sure

LTD

 

nice

sorry

main

irrevocable

 

new

expensive

laden

 

 

grateful

tiring

true

 

 

glad

late

 

 

 

convenient

depressing

 

 

 

 

bad

 

 

 

 

Moreover, the negative adjectives and indeed the positive, also mostly fall into the emotive bracket -  afraid, sorry, tiring, depressing and bad; good, nice and glad - which were absent from the BEC. As was discussed with the PMC key adjectives previously, these words are key as a result of constant repetition in letters and social situations - afraid, sorry, grateful, convenient, that exist in real life - but are over-stressed in the materials:

 

 

d) Noun/verb

 

The overall similarity in semantic categories found in both the PMC and BEC was also present in the noun/verb category. Ten categories were identified in the PMC:

 

TABLE LXXI: PMC POSITIVE KEY NOUN/VERBS (BEC REFERENCE)

 

Places & People

Food & Drink

Travel

Negative

Neutral

Personal/

Inter-personal

Work/

Business

staff

lunch

ski

regret

can

like

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