‘Students must’: A corpus based look at directives in university language Randi Reppen Northern Arizona University
Questions addressed in this presentation • Do written and spoken directives differ? • Do directives vary across disciplines?
TOEFL 2000 Spoken and Written Academic language corpus (T2K-SWAL) • Disciplines: Natural Science, Humanities, Social Science, Engineering, Business, and Education • Levels: lower division, upper division and graduate • Four American universities: Georgia; Iowa; Arizona; California
T2K-SWAL covers a range of spoken and written contexts • Written: textbooks, course packs, syllabi, assignments, institutional writing(@ 1.1 million words) • Spoken: lectures, office hours, study groups, labs, service encounters(@ 1.6 million words)
The sub-corpus used for this study From the T2K-SWAL: Contexts where directives are mostly likely to occur. • Written course management: 52,400 words • Spoken classroom management: 39,300 words
How were directives identified? Four ways: • Previous research • n grams • KWICs • reading texts NOTE: Imperatives were not used.
Look at the first question: Do written and spoken directives differ?
Directives in this study you must student(s) must you should you need to I want you have to I’d like
Directives by mode (normed per 10,000) Written Spoken you must 5.5 0.25 student(s) must 1.7 0 you should 7.0 4.3 you need to 1.7 7.9 I want 0.38 7.4 you have to 0 3.0 I’d like 0 3.6
Look at some typical examples of directives to make the numbers real.
YOU / STUDENT(S) MUST Examples from course management
Expectations / Procedures: All students mustwear shirts and shoes besides appropriate pants/dresses. If you choose to withdraw, you mustdo so before the 45th day of the semester. In order to receive a "Credit" grade, you must earn at least 420 points (of the 600 possible)... In order to earn approximately 50 percent of the points, you mustparticipate in class activities. To earn a grade of "A" in this course, astudentmustcomplete a formal oral presentation, as scheduled. To receive up to 10 extra credit points per lecture, thestudentmustwrite a one page reaction paper. The reaction paper must...
Main purpose is to introduce course expectations and procedures Note: Most examples use a to clause to begin – this serves as a downtoner In order to receive a "Credit" grade, you must earn at least 420 points (of the 600 possible)... In order to earn approximately 50 percent of the points, you mustparticipate in class activities.
Course task requirements No downtoning – not as generic Students MUST turn in the exam to me before leaving class You musthand in one “article” which deals with any aspect of each of the following You must turn in each essay to pass the course. Each student mustprepare an outline of the procedures
The only example of MUST from spoken classroom management: Course task requirement: The papers should, um, how can I put this, you need to use the MLA handbook. You mustuse the MLA format. The teacher builds up to the MUST.
You should Examples from written and spoken course/classroom management You should occurs in both modes, but is twice as common in written course management
Examples from course management Procedural directives: After you determined the attributes, you shouldwrite create table statements for the four relations. Youshould keep track of due dates and submit the homework on time. Youshould learn to use headers with your name and assignment number Youshould obtain the necessary passwords in the Commons prior to the second class day. Youshould, however, try some of each problem type assigned.
From classroom management Hedged procedural directives: OK, I don't take attendance but at the same time you shouldtry to be here. I'm here everyday. You should be here everyday too. You shouldbegin to think about your term paper In addition, I think you shouldstick with, uh, primary sources Specific knowledge directives: You shouldknow what .. this enzyme does. Today in particular you shouldlearn how a protease gets into the act,
You need to Seems to function the same way in both writing & speech: Directing a physical action. It is more common in speech @ 4 timesmore than in writing Most frequent of the spoken directives
From course managementDirects a physical action You need to hand in the diagrams and paper at least by 10 a.m. on Monday you need to spend time in the library or on the internet finding expert sources you need to look up and cite this information To complete this assignment, you need to request a distribution list. Read the information in your Pine class folder
From classroom management Directs a physical action so you need togo to the library so you need to meet today. you need to check in immediately and give me a written note You need to let me know before you go, and then we can work out a plan.
I want Like you need to, I want is also more frequent in classroom management. (spoken) It functions to direct a mental process in writing and to direct a physical process in speaking.
From course managementDirects mental process I want you to criticize the author's chain of reasoning. I want you to be aware of the fact that if you… These are the only two examples that occur in writing.
From classroom managementDirects physical action *So I want you to do problem one A, one B. So I want you to re-look over things quickly and check them. um, for this Thursday I want you to write just a brief handwritten paragraph
The next two directives occur only in classroom management - spoken You have to & I’d like
You have to Directs a physical action Seems very similar to you need to & I want
From classroom management so you have to, you have totabulate these items, You have to look at that. you have to attend the talk and pay attention it can't be purely descriptive you have to discuss processes so you have to say carbon so you have to separate it out in that magic little separator.
I’d like Saved most interesting for last… the subtle directive Uses would and assumes that Ss know that T’s likes are important.
From classroom management I'd like for you to do problem one A….*So I want you to do problem one A, one B. I'd like you to bring it to class everyday, because I'll refer it I'd like you to review your quizzes, your mid terms immediately I'd like you to uh look over here real quick ... I'd like you to bring some food, some snacks.
Directive patterns in spoken & written language Must: (W) Expectations & Procedures; Course task requirements Should: Procedural directives (W); Hedged (S) Specific knowledge directives (S) Need to: (S & W) Directs physical action Want: Directs mental process (W) Directs physical process (S) Have to: (S) Directs physical action I’d Like: (S) Subtle directive
The second question Do directives vary across disciplines? I only used 4 disciplines – the ones where I had both spoken and written represented. Remember this is a small sample size!
High use of should Most directive
Written directives by discipline • Humanities is the least directive of the 4 disciplines included. • Engineering & Natural Sciences are the most directive. • Business and Engineering rely on should.
Natural Science most directive Relies on you need to I’d like
Spoken directives by discipline • Again Natural Science is the most directive of the four disciplines. • Natural Science has a high use of I’d like • Business again relies mainly on one directive form - You need to.
In conclusion: There seem to be some interesting differences across modes and disciplines. There are lots of interesting pieces to tease apart. Deserves further study!