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Frontiers in Educational Research, 2021, 4(9); doi: 10.25236/FER.2021.040905.

A Corpus-based Study of the Use of Adjectives in Spoken and Written Registers


Guifen Tang

Corresponding Author:
Guifen Tang

Department of Fundamental Teaching, Shanghai Publishing and Printing College, Shanghai, 200093, China


The present study is designed to investigate the use of adjectives in spoken and written registers. The word “strong” is taken as an example and its synonyms are retrieved from TV/Movies Corpus and Academic Journals Corpus for analysis in terms of word frequency and semantic preferences. The results indicate that there are significant differences in the word frequency and semantic features of the adjectives between oral and written registers. 1) Adjectives in written register generally occur with higher frequency than those in spoken register. 2) The polysemy of adjectives is not determined by the word frequency, but consistent with linguistic registers. The adjectives used in written English carry a wider range of extended and metaphorical meanings than those in spoken English. 3) Nouns in adjective-noun collocations tend to be abstract and indirect in written register, but concrete and direct in spoken register. 4) Nouns influence the negative, neutral or positive semantic prosody of the collocations. As a corpus-based empirical research, the study also offers a few constructive suggestions for improving the efficiency of vocabulary acquisition and teaching by using authentic data from balanced corpora.


spoken register, written register, word frequency, lexical collocation, semantic feature

Cite This Paper

Guifen Tang. A Corpus-based Study of the Use of Adjectives in Spoken and Written Registers. Frontiers in Educational Research (2021) Vol. 4, Issue 9: 21-28. https://doi.org/10.25236/FER.2021.040905.


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