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COBUILDCollins Birmingham University Language Database
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Incidence of CAN and main adverbs with carrier verbs SWAN COBUILD MURPHY USE(D) SAY USE(D) SAY USE(D) SAY a) carrier verbs: 2754 282 2718 500 575 313 raw total b) with CAN 661 18 924 115 137 86 c) with USUALLY 77 11 82 6 6 11 d) with OFTEN 255 4 101 1 42 1 e) with SOMETIMES 79 2 103 2 18 -- f) with GENERALLY 62 2 3 -- 2 -- g) with NORMALLY 154 -- 37 3 37 -- h) total (b)--(g) 1288 37 1250 127 242 98 i) percentage 47% 13% 46% 25% 42% 31% (h) in (a)
The results also add to the evidence for the formulaic nature of such writing; the instances of "can use" and "can be used" formed roughly half of all tokens of CAN in each of the three grammars--142 out of 265 for MURPHY (56%), 662 out of 1411 for SWAN (47%), and 920 out of 1639 for COBUILD (56%).
For the purpose of this paper the study of personality was restricted to the choice of personal pronouns, namely WE and YOU, and initially a comparison was made only between SWAN and COBUILD, since, although they target similar audiences, they differ significantly in their approach to personality: the former predominantly uses the traditional WE while the latter adopts the same style introduced in other Cobuild publications (notably the Cobuild dictionaries) with heavy emphasis on the use of YOU to address the reader, in contrast to traditional lexicographese.
As can be seen, the incidence of USE(D), apart from being high, is remarkably similar in the two books (2754 compared to 2718), but when the passive constructions are omitted (and they are in the majority in both books) in order to focus on personal pronoun use with the verb, there were rather more instances of USE (as an active verb) in COBUILD (1051) than in SWAN (831); this difference (965 to 731) was still maintained when its uses as infinitive and with other subjects (most commonly "people") were stripped out.
As can be seen, CAN was far likely to be used with YOU USE in COBUILD (43%) than with WE USE in SWAN (24%)
COBUILD 1987 Collins COBUILD English language dictionary.
Nonetheless, The new Penguin dictionary includes chicken and turkey and the Collins COBUILD English dictionary gives as an example of fowl, chicken and duck.
The categories transitive and intransitive are not distinguished in OALDCE5, OALDCE6 or in either edition of COBUILD, where only the symbol V is used for both these classes of verbs.
Table 2 Symbols accompanying verb symbols in codes OALDCE LDOCE COBUILD 4 5 6 1 2 3 1 a adj ADJ * adj adj A f adv ADV 1a, 1b adv adv ADJ g inf (no inf 2 n pre ADV to) p i ing ing 3 obj C n n N 4a, 4b obj (i) INF p p prep 5a, 5b, obj ING 5c (d) pr pr that 6a, 6b prep NG s that to 7 that O inf t to inf wh 8 to-v PAST PART w wh 9 to-v PREP v-ed REPORT- CL v-ing to-INF wh 10 10 9 15 13 3 12 COBUILD CIDE 4 2 a adj adj f adv adv g ed adv [M] i inf infinitive without to n ing n p n obj pr p prep S prep that-clause t that to-infinitive w to inf [two objects] wh v-ed whether/i v-ing wh-word 10 12 13
The system of symbols used in COBUILD 1 bears a resemblance to that in the concurrently published LDOCE2 inasmuch as the symbols in both dictionaries consist, for the most part, of a few letters and represent both formal and functional categories.
The consistent description of possible syntactic constructions in terms of formal categories only can be seen as an improvement on COBUILD 1.
Celce-Murcia and Larsen-Freeman's The Grammar Book, 1999: TGB; The Cambridge Grammar of English by Carter and McCarthy, 2006: CGE; Collins COBUILD English Grammar by Sinclair, 1990; Grammar for English Language Teachers by Parrott, 2010; and The Teacher's Grammar Book by Williams, 2005).