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Example word – cause

Having examined the definitions of the five categories of co-selection of a lexical term in the previous section, we shall now look at some examples, starting with the word "cause". The following are the concordance lines (much simplified for explanatory reason) for the word "cause".

line 1: lack of a permanent presence in the market can cause problems. The firm may find difficulty keeping
line 2: ... and vehicles affect delivery of materials and cause problems for supervisory staff visiting rual
line 3: ... interest rates, and changes in asset prices can cause problema. 5. Operating risk – losses
line 4: ... Qzone Both ozone and nitrogen dioxide can cause breathing problems for people with lung
line 5: ... by government regulation. This was one cause of the severe financial problems of the railways
line 6: ... They increase the risk of skin cancer and cause eye damage. They are also a severe threat to
line 7: ... and skilled young people promises to v serious damage to the GDR's economy. If it
line 8: ... plug and hole, but instead is harmful and can cause breathing difficulties. The Antartic ozne

Example concordance lines for "cause"

Core word(s) Not found
Collocate(s) Within N±5 range: the, can, problem(s), of, ozone, be (e.g. is/are/was), risk, and, breathing, people, damage, to
Others (including words found out of the N±5 range): severe, difficulty/difficulties
Colligate(s) 1. prepositional phrases (e.g. in the market, for supervisory staff, of materials, in asset prices, for people, by government regulations, of the severe financial problems, of skin caner, to the GDR's economy)
2. conjunctions (e.g. and, but, instead)
3. modal verbs (e.g. can, may) in particular those specifying epistemic and dynamic modality
4. nouns, compound nouns and noun phrases (e.g. problems, firm, eye damage, serious damage, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, breathing problems, breathing difficulties, the Antarctic ozone)
5. determiners, articles (e.g. the)

Table 1: Lexical item "cause"

From the given concordance lines, we cannot find any additional core words for "cause". The word "cause" collocates with words like "can" as in dynamic modality indicating possibilities, different forms of "be" (e.g. is/are/was) to indicate issues that are either current or recent, "problem(s)", "risk", "breathing (difficulties)", "(eye) damage", and also technical terms that relates to the environment, in particular, oxygen-related (breathing related) gaseous compounds as in Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and Ozone (O3). To the left of the core word at N-1, there is a strong colligation (4 occurrences out of 8 concordance lines) with a model verb (e.g. can) used in the dynamic modality sense and also quite strong colligation (3 out of 8) with a propositional phrase at N-2. There is also a mild colligation (2 out of 8) with a conjunction at the N-1 position. To the right, there is very strong colligation at the N+1 position with nouns, noun phrases or prepositional phrases that relates to a negative problem, an issue or a difficult situation.

The semantic set of the word "cause" include words like "affect", "operating risk", "rural", "firm", "government regulation", "problems", "severe financial problem", "damage", "serious damage", "operating risk", "losses", "harmful", "breathing difficulties", plus names of chemical compound that are related to the environment (e.g. nitrogen dioxide, ozone). It thus implies that the semantic preference of the core seems to be related to issues that concerns the public health (respiratory issues in particular) and are environmental and scientific in nature. It may also relate to the business field and concern about the rules, regulations, and operation problems and costs in general. While the word "cause" seems to be neutral in nature, it does seem to carry a semantic prosody of "bringing about some kind of alarming issues or problems that concern the goodwill of people".

Now, let us move on to another example.

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Oh, please do not get me wrong. This new section is not about computers, electronics or any engineering stuff, but rather I am currently constructing a new corpus based on Spectrum, the monthly publication from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers USA, from July 2007 to date. Having been a member for over 20 years since 1992, I am always fascinated by some of the terms scientists use when they talk about or envision their new inventions or methodologies. How many of them eventually come into practice? Could there be some insights we could possibly derive, from the linguistics perspective?


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