A Corpus-Based Study of the Disciplinary Variations in Lexical Bundles of Maritime English


“Maritime English” is an umbrella term for the language used by seafarers—both at sea and in port—and by individuals working in the shipping and shipbuilding industry (Bocanegra-Valle, 2013). In globalizing maritime contexts, Maritime English as a lingua franca has been essential for multilingual seafarers to ensure safety in ship navigation. Maritime English is known for a variety of sub-fields—such as English for Navigation and maritime communications, or English for marine engineering—according to the specific purposes they perform within the maritime community (Ibid.). However, few studies have addressed the formulaic sequences of these disciplines (e.g., Borucinsky & Pritchard, 2022), even though these pre-fabricated linguistic units are important elements for the mastery of L2 learning (e.g. Wray, 2002). The present study aims to investigate disciplinary variations in Maritime English by comparing “lexical bundles” (Biber et al, 1999), meaning the recurrent and uninterrupted word combinations, in corpora representing each maritime sub-genre. This study created specialized corpora for each sub-genre, including maritime insurance, maritime law, and maritime safety. Four-word bundles in each corpus were extracted automatically, based on their frequency and dispersion, using corpus software. These bundles were then compared formally, structurally, and functionally, to identify how the maritime sub-genres vary phraseologically. The results of our quantitative and qualitative analyses show that although these disciplines are strongly related in the maritime industry, lexical bundles in each sub-genre present a wide range of variations. Pedagogical implications for Maritime English education stemming from these findings are discussed in detail.

Author Information
Yuto Mizushima, Marine Technical College, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ECLL2023
Stream: Approaches

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon