Restricted Verb Phrase Collocations in Standard and Learner Malaysian English
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctoral of Philosophy
The English used in Malaysia is one of the varieties of New Englishes and this variety has emerged due to the spread of English around the world (Platt, et al., 1983; Pillai, 2006). In the case of Malaysia, Malay is the national language and standard English exists to be the language of an elite (Bao, 2006), also as a language of interaction. Over years of playing its various roles as a language of interaction, there has emerged a variety of English that is distinctively Malaysian (Asmah, 1992). Baskaran (2002) points out that English is now adopted and adapted in the linguistic ecology of Malaysia, and all Malaysians should be proud of it with all its local ‘nuances and innuendos’. Malaysian English today is ‘a rich tapestry of a typical transplanted variety of English’. Malaysian English (ME) is one of the new varieties of English, with some distinct features include the localized vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar as well as pragmatic features (Pillai, 2006; Pillai and Fauziah, 2006, p.39). The present study has embarked on a specialised study of vocabulary. In particular, it examined the English collocations produced by non-native speaker English users in Malaysia. The study provided insight into the nature of the internal norms of English used in Malaysia to see how these English restricted collocations being used by this group of learners. The investigation focused on the learners’ productive knowledge of Verb-Noun collocations of their written English with the impact of exposure and frequency. Nesselhauf (2003) has the opinion that verb-noun combinations are the most frequently mistaken so they should perceive particular attention of learners. Investigating collocation in English language learning is paramount as such study may inform us on the use of restricted collocations in English language teaching and learning in Malaysian context. The findings in Chapter 4 and 5 suggest that the frequency of the cloze verb does have an effect as predicted by Kuiper, Columbus and Schmitt (2009). This is so because frequency is a measure of likely exposure. The more frequent an item is in corpora, the more likely a learner is to be exposed to it. What is needed is a much more nuanced notion of exposure. The findings in Chapter 6 proves that the malformed collocations make sense could be a way of making the World English perspective relevant after all. A new testing approach is proposed; semantic plausibility metric, which is used as a tool for this study, can be useful used as a measure of vocabulary acquisition as well as looking at learners’ test taking strategies. The findings of the present research on Malaysian English collocations contribute new knowledge to the existing understanding and literature on the acquisition of collocations.