Patterns of the ‘Current Relevance’ Meaning of the Present Perfect in Real Use and Textbooks: A Corpus-driven Perspective

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Chanakarn Chareonkul
Raksangob Wijitsopon


The present study adopts a corpus-driven perspective to an analysis of the ‘current relevance’ meaning, a central meaning of the present perfect, in general and textbook corpora. The term ‘current relevance’ refers to a meaning of the present perfect, in which a past action or event is shown to be connected with the present time in some ways. The relevance to the present, however, is in many cases implicit (Downing & Locke, 2006). This might pose a problem to EFL learners as they may fail to see the link between actions in the past and in the present time and hence use other tenses in English, e.g. the past simple tense or the present simple tense, instead of the present perfect. Adopting a corpus-linguistic perspective, which highlights the pattern-meaning relationship, the present study examines two English general corpora, BE2006 and AME2006, to explore if the ‘current relevance’ meaning of the present perfect can be realized on textual surface. The analysis suggests that the meaning under study can be expressed textually in four patterns: (1) ‘completion’, (2) ‘cause-effect’, (3) ‘purpose’, and (4) ‘sequences of action’. These formal categories are then explored in an investigation of English language textbook samples in Thailand. The comparison between patterns found in the general and textbook corpora reveals that the four textual patterns are shared by both corpora but with different ratios. That is, the pattern ‘completion’ is found to occur more frequently in the sampled textbooks while the patterns ‘purpose’ and ‘cause-effect’ show a significantly lower frequency than that in the general corpora. The study offers a new light on the description of the present perfect’s central meaning ‘current relevance’ in terms of the pattern-meaning relationship and also provides pedagogical implications for development of textbooks and teaching materials.


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