A corpus-based investigation of English near-synonyms: Assess, evaluate, and measure

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Kietnawin Sridhanyarat
Supakorn Phoocharoensil


Near-synonyms have been the subject of a considerable amount of research within the field of corpus linguistics. Insights gained from research regarding near-synonyms allow teachers to design effective English for Specific Purposes (ESP) courses for students who wish to become more proficient in English. Thus, this corpus-based research is devoted to investigating how three near-synonyms, namely assess, evaluate, and measure, are distributed across eight genres. This study further attempts to examine what noun collocates co-occur frequently with the target lexical items. Determined against the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA), the findings illustrate that assess, evaluate, and measure appear most frequently in academically-based contexts. It is also evident that assess, evaluate, and measure are generated least frequently in less formal settings (i.e., fiction, TV and movie subtitles, and spoken). The results suggest that the near-synonyms assess, evaluate, and measure are utilized less frequently in colloquial language. Interestingly, the target synonyms appear frequently in web pages, a genre newly generated in the COCA. This emerging evidence provides support for the notion that assess, evaluate, and measure are frequently found in academic discourses in web pages. Regarding collocation, the target synonyms share the same noun collocates (i.e., effect, effectiveness, and impact). In addition, assess co-occurs with reliability and validity more frequently than evaluate and measure. Pedagogical implications drawn from the findings are also offered in the study.


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