The Usage of Colligations of Preposition among Malaysian Law Undergraduates: A Needs Analysis
Current Research in Language, Literature and Education Vol. 5,
3 May 2022
Legal English (legalese) is the language of the law that is claimed by many legal linguists as very archaic, verbose, and conventionalized. The verbosity of legalese is mainly due to highly technical use of nominalization, mainly constructed by the lexico-grammatical patterns of colligations of preposition. The highly use of technical collocation (lexical collocation and grammatical collocation (colligation)), which are prevalent in legal English texts, has often faltered English as Second Language (ESL) law students’ comprehensibility of the texts, particularly among those who study law in Malaysia. Possessing collocational competence of these patterns; however, is very essential for law students’ survival in legal academic field, especially in writing legal academic essays. Due to the fact that there is lack of research conducted on investigating colligational competence of Malaysian law students, this needs analysis study examined the usage of colligations of preposition in the Problem Questions essays of law undergraduate students at a public university in Malaysia. This study was designed as descriptive research, in which the students’ use of colligations of preposition in the essay writing was analysed in frequency and percentages. 40 semester three law undergraduate students from this university were chosen to participate in the study. Two types of data were collected for this purpose, which are the interview responses and the participants’ production of colligations of preposition in the essay writing. Only eight of the forty students took part in the interview, but everyone did the essay test a week later. The interview replies were manually analysed in theme, and the Surface Strategy Taxonomy of Dulay et al. (1982) was used to analyse prepositional patterns in the Problem Question essays (of legal contract genre). The findings indicated produced many erroneous patterns, which can be related to their lack of lexico-grammatical competence, resulted from interlingual (L1 negative transfer, i.e., Malay) and intralingual (difficulty with the L2 itself, i.e., legalese) interference, as well as improper teaching method in teaching preposition (i.e., drilling) taught in both the primary and secondary schools. The study concluded that needs analysis studies are very pertinent in the field of law in order to reveal the target and learning needs of law students. It is suggested that colleges and universities that offer law courses should review the legal curriculum by including explicit teaching of colligation of preposition as a means of improving law students’ language proficiency This study is significant for law instructors, course designers, and legal practitioners to reconsider the development of legal materials for ELAP (English for Legal Academic Purposes) courses at higher education.
- Needs analysis
- lexico-grammatical competence
- colligations of preposition