Linking adverbials in English
Linking adverbials play an important role in textual cohesion. Applied linguistic studies (e.g. Altenberg & Tapper, 1998; Bolton, Nelson, & Hung, 2002; Chen, 2006) have shown that second language learners have difficulty in using linking adverbials appropriately. Biber, Johansson, Leech, Conrad, and Finegan (1999) is to date the only corpus-based reference grammar book which covers all three aspects of usage patterns of linking adverbials, i.e., form, meaning and position. But as the book provides a very comprehensive grammar, there is not room for a detailed account of all three aspects of usage patterns of a small grammar category such as linking adverbials. Also, the previous literature does not agree upon the terms used to refer to linking adverbials and the linguistic elements referred to by linking adverbials and other related terms. This two-stage study examined research questions of what linking adverbials are and how they are used in different registers using both a qualitative and quantitative approach. In Stage I, a random sample of 67 texts of a total of over 100,000 words from the Wellington Corpora of Written and Spoken New Zealand English (WWC and WSC) were manually analysed, which provided coverage of the target five registers of written academic prose, academic lectures, conversation, written news and broadcast news. In Stage II, the most frequent linking adverbials identified in written registers in Stage I were automatically searched in larger corpora, i.e., the whole WWC, BNC and COCA. The intonation unit was adopted as the analysis unit for spoken data and sound files were needed in deciding intonation units. Thus, automatic search for patterns in spoken data was not viable in Stage II. This study suggests a new definition of linking adverbials and explains the difference between linking adverbials and conjunctions. This study then provides a detailed account of usage patterns of not only the form, meaning and position of linking adverbials but also patterns of types of each form, meaning and position in five registers. Such usage patterns are compared and explained among different written and spoken registers and in different social settings. It is worth noting that a register-specific meaning categorization system and a semantic-pragmatic continuum are suggested in this study. The aforementioned findings contribute to theories of the nature of linking adverbials, and have implications for second language learning and teaching in EAP and ESP contexts and future corpus-based pedagogical grammar studies.