International Journal of Language & Linguistics

ISSN 2374-8850 (Print), 2374-8869 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/ijll

The Semantic Prosody and Semantic Preference of Maximizers in Saudi EFL Writings
Mashael Alrajhi

Semantic prosody is the co-occurrence of words with other words that belong to a particular semantic set. A related concept is semantic preference, which is the relation, not between individual words, but between a lemma or word-form and a set of semantically related words. Previous interlinguistic studies on semantic prosody show that EFL learners often make semantic prosodic errors in communication as they rarely notice the semantic prosody of the items they learn. The study investigates the semantic prosody and semantic preference found in EFL Saudi students’ writings in relation to the use of four maximizers: completely, entirely, totally, and utterly.The results are compared to findings obtained from a study by Partington (2004) in which the same maximizers were investigated utilizing data obtained from the Cobuild corpus. Results regarding semantic prosody show a significant difference. In Partington’s study, utterly had an unfavorable implication whereas the other three maximizers appeared to have an even balance between favorable and unfavorable items. All the four maximizers used in the students’ writings had a favorable prosody. In relation to semantic preference, many items found in the students’ writings belong to a semantic set related to emotions and states of mind, which is not the case with the results in Partington’s study. Another difference is that all the four maximizers exhibited a tendency to occur in the corpus with words related to absence, whereas the data collected from students’ writings shows that students barely used words that relate to absence with maximizers. The similarities in collocational behavior include using the maximizers with collocations related to change, dependency and independency.

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