Phraseology effects as a trigger for errors in L2 English: The case of more advanced learners

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When language learners produce “simple” errors (e.g. omission of 3rd person -<i>s</i>) on forms where their performance is predominantly target-like, are these errors random instances of backsliding, or is there some pattern to the contexts in which they appear? This chapter looks at four such errors – omission of 3rd person -<i>s</i>, inappropriate adverb placement, pluralized adjectives, and plural use of mass nouns – taken from two corpora of written productions by university level learners of English. The occurrence of these errors, even in careful written production, is facilitated by certain phraseological effects. Three types of effect are described – “blending”, where items used together share or transfer their features, “bonding” when collocational links override the requirements of syntax, and “burying”, where elements which are embedded inside larger units become less salient, and so lose grammatical features that they would normally be expected to carry. It is argued that persistent errors do not surface at random, but are triggered by the context.


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