How to express ‘express’? –
Pedagogical reflections from
web resources
Yiching Wu
National Tsing Hua University
Simon Smith
Ming Chuan University
Chu-Ren Huang
Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica
Express on the Internet
Web resources, dictionaries, thesauri and
corpora, are regarded as useful tools in
linguistics and applied widely in pedagogy
nowadays. (Biber 1993, Wichmann et al. 1997,
Biber et al. 1998, Partington 1998, Hunston
1999, Sinclair 2002, Aston et al. (2004))
 Viewpoint: non-native language speaker
 Goal: to gain a better understanding of
current function and future directions

Resources on the Internet

Dictionaries:
Cambridge Dictionaries Online
Merriam-Webster Online

Thesauri:
WordNet, FrameNet, HowNet, Proposition Bank

Corpora:
BNC, Sinica Corpus, Sinorama
Online dictionary: CALD
The Cambridge Advanced Learner's
Dictionary (CALD)
 Three express entries are found, based on
the similarity of meaning:
express (SHOW)
express (FAST)
express (CLEAR)

Online dictionary: CALD
express (SHOW)

Examples:

Her eyes expressed (vt) deep sadness.
I would like to express (vt) my thanks for your
kindness.
I'm afraid I'm not expressing (vt) myself very
clearly.
Words can't express (vt) how happy I am.
These figures are expressed (vt) as a percentage
of the total.




Related words:
expression (n), expressionless (a), expressive (a)
expressively (adv), expressiveness (n)

Online dictionary: CALD
express (FAST)

Examples:

Your order will be expressed (v) to you within 24
hours.
the Orient Express (n)
express (a) train
Send this parcel express (adv).



Online dictionary: CALD
express (CLEAR )

Examples:

It is my express (a) wish that after my death,
my books be given to my old college library.

Related words:
expressly (adv)
Online dictionaries:
MWOD, WordNet



The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (MWOD)
WordNet
Four entries are found based on grammatical
function:
express (a), express (adv), express (n),
express (v)

‘to force out (as the juice of a fruit) by pressure’
‘to cause (a gene) to manifest its effects in the
phenotype’
Two compounds in MWOD:
Express Mail, pony express
What we can learn






meaning
grammatical functions:
adjective, noun, adverb and verb.
derived words:
expression, expressiveness,
expressionless, expressive,
expressively, expressly
compounds: Express Mail , pony express
phrases: express yourself
well-formed sentences
Creativity and analogy
He expressed his feelings.
He expressed his anger.
 my express wish
? your express hopes
? my express desire
 to express how happy I am
? to express what a beautiful girl she is

What we cannot learn




guidance on ungrammatical uses
similarities and differences between
English and the learners’ mother language
frequency of usage
meaning: SHOW>FAST>CLEAR ?
function: a>n>v>adv ?
unmarked (frequent) >marked (rare)
(Odlin 1994, Teng 1998)
Online corpora: (1) BNC
the British National Corpus (BNC)
(Leech 1992)
 data: 100 million English words
collected between 1991 and 1994.
 tool: the Sketch Engine
programmed by
Dr. Adam Kilgarriff and Dr. Pavel Rychlý

Online corpora: (2) Sinorama



the Sinorama Chinese-English Parallel Text Corpus
(Sinorama)
data: 2,373 pairs of articles in Chinese/English,
published between 1976 and 2000.
(103,252 pairs of sentences translated into about
3.2 million English words and
5.3 million Chinese characters)
tool: TOTALrecal on CANDLE
led by Professor Hsien-Chin Liou and
Jason S Chang at National Tsing Hua University.
Part of speech distribution of
express in BNC and Sinorama
Corpus
POS
BNC
Sinorama
count percentage count percentage
V
11,959
87.1%
513
98.6%
N
1,060
7.7%
2
0.4%
A
713
5.2%
5
1.0%
13,732
100.0%
520
100.0%
total
Online thesauri: (1) FrameNet
FrameNet (Fillmore et al. 2004)
 Statement frame: express (v)
 Core frame elements:
Medium, Message, Speaker, Addressee, Topic.
 Lexical units:

add, address, say, question, speak, state,
statement, and discuss etc.
Online thesauri: (1) FrameNet –
Statement frame
Examples:
a. Evelyn (Speaker) said (V) that she was not ready to
leave (Message).
b. Kim (Speaker) questioned (V) me (Addressee) over
the phone (Medium).
c. Evelyn (Speaker) spoke (V) feelingly about what
happened (Topic).
d. Evelyn (Speaker) made a persuasive statement (N).
e. The teacher (Speaker) discussed (V) the recent
campus incidents (Topic).

no annotated sentences of express
Online thesauri: (1) FrameNet –
Statement frame-express
Examples:
a. Evelyn (Speaker) expressed (V) that she was not
ready to leave (Message).
b. Kim (Speaker) expressed (V) me (Addressee) over
the phone (Medium).
c. Evelyn (Speaker) expressed (V) feelingly about
what happened (Topic).
d. Evelyn (Speaker) made a persuasive expression (N).
e. The teacher (Speaker) expressed (V) the recent
campus incidents (Topic).
Online thesauri: (2) PropBank
The English Proposition Bank
(English PropBank)
conducted by Professor Martha Stone Palmer
and Mitch Marcus at the University of
Pennsylvania
 SAY : express
roles: Speaker, Utterance, Addressee
 SEND : express
roles: Sender, Thing Sent, Sent-To

Online thesaurus: (2) PropBank-
SAY- express, SEND- express




SAY : express
Mr. Harper (Speaker) expressed (V)
confidence that he and Mr. Baum can
convince the board of their worthiness to
run the company (Utterance).
SEND : express
John (Sender) expressed (V) his Christmas
list (Thing Sent) to the North Pole (Sent-To).
Patterns of express (v)
‘to show a feeling, opinion or fact’
a. Speaker [NP] express Message [NP]
b. Speaker [NP] express Topic [NP (reflexive)]
c. Speaker [NP] express Message [how-clause]
d. Speaker [NP] express Message [that-clause]
e. Speaker [NP] express Message [NP that-clause]
f. Speaker [NP] express Addressee Medium
g. Speaker [NP] express (Manner [AdvP]) Topic [about NP/NP]
h. Theme [NP] be expressed as Relevant [NP]
Online bilingual thesauri:
(3) HowNet
express
Def: express|表示, describe|描寫, post|郵寄
 Chinese expressions related to express|表示
biaoming 表明 ‘express clearly’, biaoshi 表示 ‘express’
biaoxian 表現 ‘show’, biaotai 表態 ‘express attitude’
biaoshi guandian 表示觀點 ‘express viewpoint ’
mingque biaoshi lichang 明確表示立場 ‘explicitly express
standpoint’
biaoshi zhongxin 表示忠心 ‘express loyalty’
 express ‘conveying a message in language’  biaoshi 表示

Express and biaoshi in Sinorama
Corpus
POS
V
Sinorama
count percentage
513
express :
520
biaoshi 表示: 1,843
98.6%
N
2
0.4%
A
5
1.0%
total
520
100.0%
express
|
biaoshi 表示
: 73
(14%)
( 4%)
Why the match rate is low?

Hypothesis I:
The low match rate results from an asymmetry of
grammatical function distribution.
express
count
biao3 shi4 表示
percentage count
percentage
V
N
513
2
98.6%
0.4%
1,841
2
99.9%
0.1%
A
5
1.0%
0
0.0%
520
100.0%
1,843
100.0%
Total
Why the match rate is low?
Hypothesis I

BNC vs. Sinica Corpus
express
count
V
N
A
Total
The
11,959
1,060
713
13,732
biao3 shi4 表示
percentage count
87.1%
7.7%
5.2%
100.0%
5,289
36
0
5,325
percentage
99.3%
0.7%
0
100.0%
low match rate does not result from an asymmetry of
grammatical function distribution.
Why the match rate is low?

Hypothesis II:
Biaoshi 表示 is also polysemous, only some
of the meanings can be mapped to express.
Senses and meaning facets of biaoshi 表示
Liu and Wu 2004, Wu 2004
Sense 1:
‘to quote or to describe what a Speaker said’
他表示:「這樣的定位點不容易被取代。」
ta biaoshi:「zheyang de dingweidian bu rongyi bei
qudai.」
he biaoshi: “this kind of anchoring point not easy be
replaced.”
‘He said, “This kind of anchoring point is not easy
to be replaced.”’

Senses and meaning facets of biaoshi 表示
Sense 2:
‘to convey emotion or attitude in language or
by an action ’
李先生表示同情。
li xiansheng biaoshi tongqing.
Li Mr. biaoshi sympathy.
‘Mr. Li expressed his sympathy.’
Senses and meaning facets of biaoshi 表示
Sense 3:
‘to represent one thing in terms of another’
facet 1: ‘to reveal a deductive meaning’
我這麼說並不表示我不重視可能的弊端
wo zheme shuo bing bu biaoshi wo bu zhongshi
keneng de biduan.
I so say do not biaoshi I not concern possible malady
‘Saying so doesn’t mean that I am taking the
possibility of creating abuses lightly.’
Senses and meaning facets of biaoshi 表示
Sense 3
facet 2: ‘to reveal a substitutive meaning ’
 conventional
鮮花表示愛情。
xianhua biaoshi aiqing.
fresh flower biaoshi love.
‘Fresh flowers represent love.’
Senses and meaning facets of biaoshi 表示
Sense 3
facet 2: ‘to reveal a substitutive meaning ’
 non-conventional
一支國旗表示一萬尾烏魚。
yi zhi guoqi biaoshi yi wan wei wuyu.
one classifier nation flag biaoshi 10,000
classifier grey mullet
‘One flag represents 10,000 grey mullet.’
Mapping of express and biaoshi4表示

express ‘conveying a message in language’
 biaoshi 表示-Sense 2:
‘to convey emotion or attitude in language or by an
action ’
李先生表示同情。
‘Mr. Li expressed his sympathy.’

Hypothesis II:
Biaoshi 表示 is also polysemous, only sense 2 can
be mapped to express.
Mapping of express and biaoshi4表示
Examples from Sinorama


a. At the end of last year, Thai Prince
Bhisadej expressed on the occasion of the
retirement of Sung Ching-yun, "Papa Sung,
who has worked shoulder to shoulder with
our people for the development of the
mountain areas for over twenty years, is now
going to retire. And our farms have lost a
friend and a father.”
Speaker express, ‘Message [clause].’
Mapping of express and biaoshi4表示
Examples from Sinorama


"I'm quite certain that old photos of this
kind can still be found in every place in
Taiwan," Liao Chia-chan expresses
confidently.
‘Message [clause]’, Speaker express.
Mapping of express and biaoshi4表示
Examples from Sinorama


In the aura of benign competition, "for the
last two years, the quality of Taiwan's
products has seen a lot of progress,"
expresses Otto Lin, former president of the
Industrial Technology Research Institute,
who has been invited to serve as a judge in
the National Product Awards for the past
two years.
‘Message [clause]’, express Speaker.
Mapping of express and biaoshi4表示
Examples from Sinorama


Kuo Nan-hung expresses that those people
usually are professors emeritus at
universities. They are doing well, and don't
need any modification in their lifestyle.
Speaker express Message [that-clause]
Mapping of express and biaoshi4表示
Systematic sporadic examples from Sinorama

Speaker express, ‘Message [clause].’
‘Message [clause]’, Speaker express.
‘Message [clause]’, express Speaker.
Speaker express Message [that-clause].

express say and biaoshi 表示-sense 1



他表示:「這樣的定位點不容易被取代。」
‘He said, “This kind of anchoring point is not easy
to be replaced.”’
Why the match rate is low?

Hypothesis III:
(1) Biaoshi 表示 is also polysemous, only
sense 1 and sense 2 can be mapped to
express.
(2) The low match rate results from a low
frequency of sense 1 and sense 2
in Sinorama.
Sense distribution of biaoshi 表示
in Sinorama
Distribution
count
percentage
sense 1
1,743
95%
sense 2
43
2%
sense 3
58
3%
1,843
100%
Sense
total
Why the match rate is low?

Hypothesis II:
(1) Biaoshi 表示 is also polysemous, only
sense 2 can be mapped to express.
(2) The systematic sporadic examples in
Sinorama are anomalous exceptions
influenced by biaoshi 表示.
Objects of predicate express and biaoshi
Item
Object
type
Sentential
object
Other
object
Total
BNC
express
count
percentage
Sinica Corpus
biaoshi 表示
count percentage
23
0.2%
4,882
92.3%
11,936
99.8%
407
7.7%
11,959
100.0%
5,289
100.0%
Objects of predicate express in BNC
Sentential objects
* Speaker express, ‘Message [clause].’
* ‘Message [clause]’, Speaker express.
* ‘Message [clause]’, express Speaker.
? Speaker express Message [that-clause].
(0.06%, 7 out of 11,959 verbal tokens )
 Express does not map to biaoshi 表示-sense 1.
Reflections


Bilingual corpora may be influenced by one
of the languages and may not reflect the
other language truthfully.
Say and express belong to the same lexical
frame (Statement in FrameNet), and take
the same kind of participant roles (Speaker,
Message, Addressee, Topic, Medium), but
their syntactic behavior is by no means the
same.
Nominal objects of predicate express in BNC:
Message
a. He expressed a hope that we might meet again
during the remaining two days of his stay and have a
longer conversation.
b.各國領袖皆表示希望戰爭儘快結束。
ge guo lingxiu jie biaoshi xiwang zhanzheng jinkuai
jieshu.
‘Each leader of the countries all expressed a hope
that the war will end as soon as possible.’
 biaoshi 表示+xiwang 希望 ‘hope’(N)
+appositive clause?
Message of predicate express in BNC
c. *表示他們的希望戰爭儘快結束
*biaoshi tamen de xiwang zhanzheng jinkuai jieshu
‘express their hope that the war will end as soon as
possible’
d. 各國領袖皆表示(他們)希望戰爭儘快結束。
ge guo lingxiu jie biaoshi (tamen) xiwang zhanzheng
jinkuai jieshu.
?‘Each leader of the countries all expressed that they
hope that the war will end as soon as possible.’
 biaoshi 表示+Message [clause]
 express +Encoded Message [NP] (Message [that clause])
Topic of predicate express in BNC
a. The Bulgarian authorities have expressed concern
over the Greek Electrical Company's programme to
dam the River Mesta.
b He expressed concern that the officials are under
considerable pressure.
c. *他表示關心官員們壓力很大。
* ta biaoshi guanxin guanyuanmen yali hen da.
d. 他對官員們的壓力很大表示關心。
ta dui guanyuanmen de yali hen da biaoshi guanxin.
‘He expressed concern about the great pressure on
the officials.’
Topic of predicate express in BNC:
N and P





concern over/about,
surprise at,
belief in,
commitment to,
view on, etc.
Addressee of predicate express in
BNC
a. He expressed to some colleagues his nervousness.
b. 經理向眾人表示員工及投資人均是被害者。
jingli xiang zhongren biaoshi yuangong ji touziren jun
shi beihaizhe.
‘The manager expressed to the public that the
employers and investors were all victims.’



Speaker ask/*express Addressee [NP]
Speaker *ask/express Addressee [to NP]
Words of the same frame may not behave the same.
Active and Passive sentences of predicate
express in BNC

Active: 9,326 (78%) , passive 2,633 (22%)
a. Concern has been expressed about extending further the
Prime Minister’s powers of patronage.
b. Doubt was expressed that Richards could maintain the unit.
c. That view, albeit qualified somewhat, was also expressed by
Ireland .
d. The EC Trade and Agriculture Ministers, meeting in Brussels
on Jan. 10-11, had restated their reservations (expressed at an
earlier meeting on Dec. 23), saying that "insofar as the
Dunkel paper calls into question the foundation of the
Communities' agricultural policy, the paper is not acceptable".
Active and Passive sentences in
Mandarin


In Mandarin, passive sentences are highly
marked (Chu 1973).
action verbs: da 打 ‘beat’, ma 罵 ‘scold’
a. 爸爸 打/罵 他。
baba da/ma ta.
‘Father beat/scolded him.’
b. 他被爸爸 打/罵。
ta bei baba da/ma.
‘He was beaten/scolded by Father.’
Active and Passive sentences of
biaoshi 表示
a. 他表示關心。
ta biaoshi guanxin.
‘He expressed concern.’
b. *關心被他表示。
guanxin bei ta biaoshi.
‘*Concern was expressed by him.’
Infinitive objects of predicate express in
BNC
a. The purchaser of Caliban was expressed to be Mr.
Perot's son, Mr. Perot junior; at one stage during
the negotiation of the contract it was suggested
that Mr. Perot's daughters would be the purchasers.
b. It will be in the landlord's interest to ensure that
all tenancies are expressed to expire on the same
date.



highly restricted, in passives only
0.5% (60 instances: 50 in legal and 10 in non-legal
texts)
Some native speakers regard them as anomalous
exceptions.
Core patterns of express
a. Speaker [NP] express (Addressee [to NP])
Encoded Message [NP] (Topic [PP]).
b. Speaker [NP] express Encoded Message [NP]
(Message [that-clause]).
c. Speaker [NP] express Message [why-clause/howclause].
d. Encoded Message [NP] be expressed (Addressee
[to NP]) ( Speaker [by NP]) (Message [thatclause]).
Reflections and conclusion




From a pedagogical point of view, most online
dictionaries and thesauri do not provide adequate
information about lexical items.
Bilingual corpora may not faithfully reflect both
languages.
Learners should be carefully guided when using a
bilingual corpus as an aid, though it may be a
useful tool in learning the common core uses of a
target language.
It cannot be taken for granted that a pedagogical
goal can be achieved successfully using the current
online resource aids.
Reflections and conclusion





To meet pedagogical needs, the followings are
needed:
Information related to the frequency of a target
lexical item and its collocated patterns
Role internal grammatical types
Common marked patterns, e.g. passive sentences
and active sentences with N that-clause objects.
Similarities and differences between English and
Mandarin, i.e. positive input as well as negative
input
Reflections and conclusion

The use of corpora does encourage a keener
understanding of lexical nuance, and
learners are less likely to blindly use the
most obvious second language equivalent to
the word they have in mind, when they have
access to such resources.
Thank you!
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How to express ‘express’? – Pedagogical reflections from