The American Movie Corpus: A Tool for the Development of Spoken Lexico-Grammatical Competence

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The present book introduces the current version of the American Movie Corpus (also known as the AMC), a structured dataset of authentic movie dialogs produced in the United States of America from 1959 to 2019. Starting from the assumption that spoken language has a primary role in communication, the main idea behind the work is to offer a tool for language learners/teachers to investigate and develop spoken lexico-grammatical competence, also in are- as of specialized communication. Although movies are artifacts by nature, recent investigations (cf. Forchini 2012, 2013, 2017, 2019; Zago 2016) have, indeed, revealed that their dialogs share the same textuality and linguistic features which characterize face-to-face conversation and that language learners can improve their spoken competence by actively watching movies. For the purpose, the book has been structured into two parts. The first part (i.e. Chapter 1), which has been written by the AMC project director, offers a close-up account of the American Movie Corpus. It presents the reasons and needs for using authentic movie dialogs together with the findings about their linguistic similarity with face-to-face conversation obtained through var- ious multi- dimensional analyses and corpus-driven criteria. Then, with these premises in mind, the AMC is described by illustrating its origins, characteristics and corpus building criteria. The second and more practical part (i.e. Chapters 2-6), instead, which has been written by various members of the AMC team, illustrates some functional applications of the AMC. More specifically, the aim of Chapters 2 and 3 is twofold in that they intend to show how the AMC can reveal features of spoken language and also suggest some free- ware software programs, such as AntConc (i.e. a concordancer corpus analysis toolkit for concordancing and text analysis) and RStudio (i.e. an integrated development environment for the programming language R), that can com- plement the use of the AMC. Chapter 2, written by Francesca Seracini, explores the language of leadership in American movies with a view to gaining an insight as to how different leadership styles are constructed through oral communication. With a focus on leadership as a process (cf. Carroll and Gillen 1987, Fairhurst and Grant 2010), the analysis investigates how leadership is performed in leader-follower conversation. The analysis is carried out on the communication interactions of two leaders in two movies from the AMC corpus, both set in a business environment. The findings, obtained with AntConc, reveal differences in the way the two characters communicate; in particular, in the use of personal pronouns, modal verbs and discourse markers, all features which point to two different leadership styles, namely directive and cooperative (Walker and Aritz 2014, 2015). Chapter 3, written by Francesca Poli, in- stead, considers adverb + adjective collocations extracted from a learner corpus and compared, in a Contrastive Interlanguage Analysis perspective, to crime movies from the AMC. The collocations were extracted from both corpora and compared in terms of raw frequencies produced by each speaker. The results, obtained with RStudio, indicate that Italian advanced learners of English produce a greater number of intensified adjective collocations compared to spoken American English, thus suggesting that the learners may tend to rely on “collocational teddy bears” (Nesselhauf 2005, 69). Chapter 4, written by Francesca Poli, also explores the influence of movie conversation on Italian learners’ collocations. In particular, the study investigates the use of eight adverb + adjective collocations in a learner corpus and in the superhero component of the AMC. The analysis is a quantitative one and it highlights both similarities and differences between the two corpora: the learners are divided between those using the same amount of collocations as fo
Lingua originaleEnglish
Numero di pagine172
ISBN (stampa)978-88-9335-774-6
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2021


  • Corpus Linguistics
  • MDA
  • corpora
  • language teaching
  • movie language
  • spoken language


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