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False Friends in Learner Corpora

A corpus-based study of English false friends in the written and spoken production of Spanish learners

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M Luisa Roca-Varela

This book is conceived as a contribution to the general understanding of learner language. It presents an innovative approach to the study of English false friends. False friends are a current issue for those learning and working with languages since these lexical items may spring up in different contexts of our everyday life. The book identifies false friends in real samples of learner English, reflects on the difficulty of these words and illustrates the specific problems which should be addressed in the EFL classroom. The ultimate purpose of this book is to cast new light on both the skillful and awkward use of false friends in learner English.
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3. Corpus-Based Study: English False Friends in the Written and Spoken Production of Spanish Learners

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3.   Corpus-Based Study: English False Friends in the Written and Spoken Production of Spanish Learners

3.1   Motivation

Despite the existence of numerous studies about false friends in diverse fields of language, most research on false friends does not offer a thorough and systematic description of the occurrence and use of these words in learner language (Selinker, 1994). In fact, most studies tend to look into classic examples of false friends frequently occurring in EFL classrooms missing important aspects such as word frequency, the degree of semantic divergence between the L1 and the L2 or the existing differences in the use of false friends in speech and writing. In addition to this, it is also remarkable that few scholars use corpora for the analysis of English false friends with the exception of some trailblazing studies, such as the ones by Granger (1996) and Palacios and Alonso (2005). Granger (1996) and Palacios and Alonso (2005) investigated the use of English false friends in the written production of French and Spanish learners of English with the support of two different learner corpora: International Corpus of Learner English (ICLE) and Santiago University Learner of English Corpus, respectively (SULEC). Granger analysed a 50,000 word sample and concluded that one third of the lexical errors attested in the written sample of French learners involved the misuse of false friends (e.g. The economic objective required a unique currency meaning “single, common”). Palacios and Alonso applied a different perspective...

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