A Contrastive Corpus-based Study of American and English Adjectives: ‘Important’ and ‘Significant’

  • Bunyawat Sriwangrach Kamphaeng Phet Rajabhat University, Thailand
Keywords: COCA, BNC, Genre Analysis, Noun Collocates, Semantic Preference


This contrastive corpus-based study aims to analyze the similarities and differences of two synonyms “important” and “significant” concerning on the degree of formality in their distribution across genres as well as their collocations and semantic preference. The corpus data derived from the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) and the British National Corpus (BNC) which represent varieties of English usage across different cultures (American and British). This study analyzed the top 20 noun collocates with Mutual Information (MI) scores value of at least three. The corpus data from COCA and BNC explored some shared characteristics and contrastive features. The findings discovered that the two adjectives have the same core meaning and degree of formality since their highest frequency in academic texts whereas frequencies are the lowest in informal genres i.e. TV and movie subtitles and fiction. In certain conditions, these synonyms are different in terms of noun collocation due to the fact that these synonyms co-occur with particular noun collocates. Interestingly, the findings also confirm two adjectives are near synonyms as they share only two similar theme of semantic preference. In consequence, the two synonyms cannot be used interchangeably in all contexts. Moreover, it was found that the corpora provide some useful details that are deficient in the dictionary.

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How to Cite
Sriwangrach, B. (2024). A Contrastive Corpus-based Study of American and English Adjectives: ‘Important’ and ‘Significant’. Shanlax International Journal of Education, 12(2), 32-44. https://doi.org/10.34293/education.v12i2.7227