A Corpus-Based Study Of English Synonyms Of The Adjectives ‘Far’, ‘Distant’, And ‘Remote’

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Niramol Thongpan


This corpus-based study investigates the similarities and differences between the three synonymous adjectives ‘far’, ‘distant’, and ‘remote’, concentrating on the degree of formality in their distribution across eight genres, as well as their collocations with the semantic preference combination. The data for this study was gathered by using COCA (Corpus of Contemporary American English). This study also analyzed the top 30 noun and adverb collocates with Mutual Information (MI) scores of at least three. The results revealed that the word ‘remote’ has the most formal degree, followed by ‘distant’ and ‘far’, respectively, since it is most commonly used in academic texts. In terms of collocations and semantic preference, the data pointed out that the three synonyms share only a few collocates and, as a result, they vary in semantic preference. Interestingly, ‘far’ appears to be uncommon when used with an adverb, compared to their synonyms. Consequently, despite being near-synonyms, they cannot be perfectly substituted for each other in all contexts. More importantly, the results of the study will encourage English teachers to apply this information pertaining to the different frequency across genres and collocations integrated with semantic preference, when designing the pedagogical materials for students to learn how to distinguish between synonyms and correctly apply them in contexts.

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