A Corpus-driven Analysis of the Uses of English Polarity Expressions between Native Speakers and Chinese Learners

Huanqi Ji, Xie Zhang


This paper briefly introduces the Open Choice Principle, the Idiom Principle and the Affective-polarity Theory to suggest that language use is not as random as it is assumed to be, and many words and phrases can only occur in certain contexts. Meanwhile, it discusses the uses of three English polarity expressions: care a damn, lift a finger, and have ever done by using the four corpora LOB, BROWN, BNC online, and CLEC and finds out that care a damn, lift a finger are used in affective contexts by native speakers but are not acquired by most Chinese learners; have ever done is also used in affective contexts by native speakers but is often used in the wrong contexts by Chinese learners. Thus, the paper concludes that Chinese learners need to understand the underlying constraints of sentence construction so as to better grasp English.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5539/ijel.v2n2p149

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International Journal of English Linguistics   ISSN 1923-869X (Print)   ISSN 1923-8703 (Online)   E-mail: ijel@ccsenet.org

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