Analysis Of A Corpus Based Approach English Language Essay

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It is a common fact that the advent of the 21st century has accompanied globalization in business activities at the national and international scale, which has magnified press release as the important mean for public relation of an organization. Many firms issue press releases several weeks after the end of each quarter to announce their results for the certain period (Henry, 2008).

According to Rosanne Knorr, 2009, "A press release provides information to the media with the objective of reaching the public via news coverage." Press releases are issued by many firms several weeks after the end of each quarter to publicize their fallouts for the period (Henry, 2008). Although these press releases are unpaid, but they are important to the firms as they represent and communicate to investors about their performance within the scale. A firm, non-profit can often gain valuable press coverage with no outlay of money other than the costs of writing and disseminating the release. A well written press release presents the facts in a positive light and can provide valuable name recognition, credibility or additional sales benefits.

Engrossing in the business world is always a need for a globally accepted language as it is applied in international dealing for transactions in goods and services, technical specifications, financial reports and other purposes among non-native and native speakers throughout the world. Nevertheless according to the newswire PRNewsChannel.com, many press releases are boring, filled with grammatical errors and lack the creative writing necessary to capture attention. Some press release distribution companies are happy to take the money and quite frankly will distribute poorly written press releases.

The serious grammatical errors that occur in writing press releases can seriously damage an organization's reputation. According to Kandy (2006), "reading text that composed of errors in sentence fragments is like being in the passenger seat with a start-and-stop driver. They will race away from the green light, travel a very short distance, and then slam on the brakes, causing grammatical whiplash. The grammatical whiplash in other words carries the title as sentence fragment errors that occur when a writer does not aware of proper sentence construction." Sentences at the simplest level need both subjects and predicates, which contain the verb and the objects as shown below:

We have made significant strides in our franchise in Singapore.

(Adapted from Jaspal Bindra's speech, Chief Executive of Standard Chartered Bank Asia)

Subject : We

Predicates : have made significant strides in our franchise in Singapore.

The above sentence is considered as the perfect sentence since it has both subject and predicates.

PROBLEM STATEMENT

It has been observed that there are a lot of grammatical mistakes in term of verbs in press releases. In order to maximize the chances of a press release being journalistically appropriated, the firms sometimes do not aware that they have distributed poorly written press releases by ignoring the tenses rules when writing that public relation medium. For instance, use past tense when writing about events that have not yet taken place at the moment of writing. Studies have shown that over 90%of all press releases published have poor grammar, spelling errors and a complete absence of proper writing creativity.

OBJECTIVES / RESEARCH QUESTION / HYPOTHESIS

This study investigates the misuse of verbs that some Malaysian press release writers made when writing the news releases. The aim of this study is to investigate how the wrong used of verbs affect press release goals. This study will answer the following questions that have been developed based on the objective. The research questions are:

What is the most misuse of verbs found in press releases?

What could be the roots of these problems?

My hypotheses are:

Verb-related errors can be related to the lack of inflection in Malay verbs.

Incorrect use of some English grammatical rules caused by interference or ignorance.

LIMITATIONS

The original plan of this study is to make comparison in term of the grammatical mistakes of the use of simple past and present perfect tense in press releases at the national and international level of businesses. Later I found that the scope is quite limited and should be broaden out. So, the focus has been changed from only analyzing simple past tense and present perfect tense into more broaden way, which is analyzing the verb-related errors in press releases.

This study has been also limited by insufficient sources due to fewer studies focus on analyzing the grammatical errors in press releases. Most of the studies that related to press releases is based on genre study not the corpus ones. This has led to very limited references to be referred. Besides the limitation is also caused by wrong perception of some companies that found that it is unnecessary to have company press releases. For them, the primary part that should be focused is the company businesses rather than press releases without thinking that the press releases are the important mean for public relation. Considering the fact that out of the 10 selected national companies, only six of them have company press releases, which make the results impossible to generalize.

DEFINITION OF TERMS

DEFINITIONS

TERMS

Transactional

Communication involving two or more people that affects all those involved; personal interaction: "a rich sense of the transaction between writer and reader" (William Zinsser)

Lexical

Of or relating to the vocabulary, words, or morphemes of a language.

Morphological

The patterns of word formation in a particular language, including inflection, derivation and composition.

The study and description of such patterns.

The study of the behavior and combination of morphemes.

Grammatical

Conforming the rules of grammar.

Table 1: Definition of Terms

REVIEW OF LITERATURE

Press Releases Studies

Henry (2008) has based and divided the press release study both on rhetorical and quantitative analysis. The rhetorical style analyzed the genre of earnings press releases, which looked at "regulatory context, structural attributes, and dual informational-promotional role of earnings press releases, using individual releases as illustrations" (Henry, 2008). On the quantitative part, Henry (2008) emphasized on the "uses capital markets data to assess the investor impact of tone and other stylistic attributes."

Study by Maat (2007) however observed on the different sights of linguistic fields. This study researched on "how promotional language in corporate press releases is dealt with when the release is reused in different journalistic genres." In this study an innovative coding system was used in analyzing "89 press releases and their journalistic transformations" (Maat, 2007) this study has concluded that "promotional language is the pervasive feature of press releases of airline companies, despite the injunctions not to it" and "promotional language in press releases survives remarkably well in corresponding with press publications, especially in magazines dedicated o air travel and newspapers with travel sections" (Henry, 2008)

Numerous research conducting in press releases field mainly focusing on analyzing language as the primary part while grammar analysis as the secondary one. in this study, the role is switched, where the grammar will be the primary part that will be focused on by applying corpus-based approach.

Corpus-based Approach

Study by Ying (2006) reviewed that "with the emerging of learner corpora in the early 1990s, a new approach was proposed by Granger (1998)." For instance, contrastive interlanguage analysis (CIA) that guides the "researchers to do a lot of work to examine not only learners' errors, but also learners' total interlanguage based-on their corpora" (Ying, 2006). In his study, Ying (2006) stated that Granger (1998) in the book Learner English on Computer collected some significant achievements in this field.

In China, since the arrival of CLEC (Chinese Language English Corpus) and SWECCL (Spoken and Written English Corpus of Chinese Learners), lead many researchers to study Chinese learners' interlanguage by applying the both CLEC and SWECCL.

In terms of lexical study, Zhang Lifei (2003), had analyzed the non-native of Chinese learners use of grammatical and lexical patterns of English adjectives with 'afraid' as example. The other is conducted by Pu Jianzhong (2003). He studied Chinese learners' behavior of verbs with regards to their colligation and collocation. Another study explored by Ringbom (1998), emphasized on the language data gathered from scholars with seven L1 backgrounds by analyzing them with English 25 vocabularies. He found that the English learners over practiced some words with high frequency, such as think, things, and people.

The previous studies of corpus-based approach have shown that not so many researchers conducting research on analyzing the verb used in press releases writing. Realizing this situation, has triggered out the idea to conduct the study on analyzing the uses of simple past and the present perfect tense in press releases, which combine both corpus-based and genre approaches.

Simple Past and Present Perfect Tenses

Fewer studies have been performed in emphasizing the inappropriate uses of simple past and present perfect tenses in press releases. Previous studies merely centre on the basis of analyzing grammar mistakes at various levels of educational lines. Though the setting is quite similar to each other, but the approaches used were different. Study by Talif and Edwin (1989) had been based on the error analysis of verbs used by the form four students in writing English composition. Another study by Xiao and McEnery (2002) used corpus-based approach in analyzing the tense and aspect in English-Chinese translation. Both Xiao and McEnery concluded that "parallel corpora are useful resources in translation studies.

Baker (2002) in his study stated that, according to Leech (1971), the past tense usually used in reference to some definite time in the past that took place before the present moment and excludes the present. Study by An Li reviewed that the past tense can as well be referred as the 'exclusive past' (Huddleston, 1984: 158). Often, the past tense is found with time adverbials indicating a definite past time. For example, yesterday, last week and last year (Baker, 2002). However, there are other uses of past simple that also include 'back shifting' (Huddleston, 1984 as mentioned by Baker, 2002); a verb in subordinate clause, within a larger clause that contains a past tensed verb, will also be the past tense. Huddleston as well refers past tense as 'factual remoteness' (1984), which used to express a hypothetical situation. Leech (1971) identified another use of past tense is in narratives even. Riddle (1986) and Hinkle (1997) further examines the uses of past tense can be seen as very important aspect in academic writing especially in giving background information or referring to events with past associations (Baker, 2002). For instance:

Ray was an Associate of the Institute of Bankers in Scotland and a full member of the Singapore Institute of Directors.

Ray may well still an associate of the bank, however the event is associated with a past temporal reference and so 'was' is more appropriate than 'is'. This use of past tense associated as much with conventions as with a temporal reference to past time.

In the aims to produce effective writing, the press release writers "must be aware of the temporal references and distinctions associated with each of them" (Baker, 2002). Further, Baker (2002) as well stressed that the learners, which are the press release writers in this study, should aware of various conventions regarding the choice of either the form, which may not be related to temporal meaning, but rather personal perspectives or discourse conventions. In addition, they need to understand the various morphological features, particularly in terms of inflection for the past or past participle forms of English verbs.

Studies by Svalberg and Chu Chu (1998) observed that the English tense can be divided into three categories, which are simple, progressive and perfect. The perfect aspect in English expresses a relationship between a present and a past state. Huddleston (1984:164), as mentioned by Baker (2002), stated that this makes perfect very close to a tense when compared to other aspects. Baker (2002) as well stated that Comrie (1976), Leech (1971), and Leech and Svartvik (1979) have identified four main types of 'perfect'. Those four categories are as follows:

The perfect can be used with a state which began in the past and continue up to the present time and can continue into the future. Normally, an adverb of duration is required for this use (Leech 1971: 31).

Example:

Cheng Teck has been Chief Executive of Standard Chartered in Singapore since March 2006.

The perfect can be used with a habit in a period of time from the past to the present. Over again an adverb of duration is required for this category.

Example:

We have made significant strides in our franchise in Singapore.

(Adapted from Jaspal Bindra's speech, Chief Executive of Standard Chartered Bank Asia)

The perfect can also be used for the indefinite past, at some time between the present and past. In this use, the exact time is considered unnecessary or irrelevant to the speaker.

Example:

I have been to Australia twice.

(Baker, 2002)

The perfect is used for a past event with a present relevance.

Example:

We have achieved a good balance, with strong contribution from both our Consumer Banking and Wholesale Banking businesses.

(Adapted from Cheng Teck speech, Chief Executive of Standard Chartered Bank Singapore)

CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

Data Collection

In order to analyze press releases written by native English-speaking (NE) communicators and those written by non-native Malaysian (NNM) communicators, twenty press releases of national and international companies in Malaysia and overseas were sampled among selected press releases. In the corpus, 25 letters had been written by Iranian writers in four big companies in Tabriz and the other 25 letters by native English writers in nine companies in England. The names of Iranian persons and companies in the letters were removed to preserve confidentiality and, then, the letters were numbered according to the nationality of letter writers.

My research methodology is divided into two parts which are data collection and instruments for data analysis. For the data collection, my entire corpus consists of 20 press releases which were collected from selected national and international industries differently, dated from July to August 2010. The rationale I choose to select the press releases from the different field is to ensure that the data that will be analyzed is varies in term of misuse of verbs found. If I choose to analyze the press release from the same industries, the term of verbs use will be the same and so that, not so many mistake will be spotted.

Since press releases can be found online on the voluntary basis, so here is no difficulty to obtain them. One common criterion in my data collection was that each sample of national press releases had to be written by Malaysian non-native English speakers and for the international press releases should be written by English native speakers. This way will help me to do comparison between the common misuse of verbs made by national and international press release writers I the analysis part of this study.

Twenty online press releases; 10 accumulated from the public and private domestic sectors and the other 10 from the international sectors were obtained on a voluntary basis upon my request. The selected national and international firms are as follows:

Industries

National Companies

International Companies

1. Airlines

Malaysia Airlines

British Airways

2. Building Materials, Glass

Brick Dotcom Sdn. Bhd

Owens Corning

3. Software

GLOCO Sdn. Bhd

CliniSys

4. Real Estate

Sime Darby Property

Simon Property Group

5. Motor Vehicles

Proton

Toyota Motors

6. Homebuilders

Arkitek Puncak Cipta

KB Home

7. Apparel

Padini

MANGO

8. Electronics

National

Toshiba

9. Financial

Maybank

HSBC

10. Consumer Food Products

Munchy's

Nestle

Table 2: selected National and International Companies of Press Releases

3.1 Instruments (The Corpus)

This study expands the use of corpus methodology approach in investigating the misuse of verbs in press releases. Baker (2002) predicted that the availability of large corpora of both original and translated texts, together with the development of a corpus-driven methodology, would enable translation scholars to uncover "the nature of translated text as mediated communicative events." The present study is qualitative in nature, where the analysis will be based on the press release texts gained from those selected companies. By adopting the corpus approach, will gain a detailed of the statistical data of wrong use of verbs contain in press releases obtained from the selected national and international firms.

CHAPTER 4: RESULTS / FINDINGS

The classification scheme for the present analysis consists of 10 main categories as listed below according to their frequencies.

No.

Misuse of Verbs Categories

No. of Errors

Example

1

Wrong form of verbs

25

We are very glad to has [have] a good chance of.....

2

Omission of necessary / auxiliary verbs

17

We were regret that we will [be] unable to achieve the target for the first quota of this year.

3

Wrong selection: verbs for noun

8

The top management await the decision and advise.... [advice]

4

Over marking of present perfect tense

6

We made [have made] significant stride in our franchise in Singapore.

5

Over marking of simple past tense

5

The MOU between GLOCO and SAGE held [will be held] on 8th of August.

6

Wrong selection: verbs for adjectives

4

The investors are advised not too worry [worried]

7

Wrong selection: verbs for -ing clause as adverbials

3

Refer [Referring] to the fallouts for the first period of this year…..

8

Omission of necessary verbs in phrasal verbs

2

Mr X, will be direct appointed [will be appointed] as the Deputy Chairman for YYYY Malaysia.

9

Unnecessary insertion of verbs

1

During the MOU, the XXX Vice President thanked the partners for provide support....[for the support]

10

Omission of necessary modal verbs

1

XXX CEO [would] highly appreciate if the investors [could] continue to invest.....

No. of Errors

National Press Releases

Misuse of Verbs Categories

International Press Releases

25

Wrong form of verbs

0

17

Omission of necessary / auxiliary verbs

0

8

Wrong selection: verbs for noun

0

6

Over marking of present perfect tense

0

5

Over marking of simple past tense

0

4

Wrong selection: verbs for adjectives

0

3

Wrong selection: verbs for -ing clause as adverbials

0

2

Omission of necessary verbs in phrasal verbs

0

1

Unnecessary insertion of verbs

0

1

Omission of necessary modal verbs

0

CHAPTER 5: DISCUSSIONS

As shown in the table in results / findings section, the top three types of misuse of verbs found in my corpus is wrong form of verbs (25 errors), omission of necessary / auxiliary verbs (17 errors) and wrong selection for noun which are used as verbs are eight errors. This result has answered my first research question, which is what is the most misuse of verbs found in press releases? In this analysis section, I will focus more on these types of errors and also highlight some other interesting errors before moving on to see what the roots that cause these problems arise.

5.1 Verbs and verb-related errors

Errors concerning verbs are the most frequently found in press releases. This has inspired me to study why th

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