Quick cup of COCA – bring to * boil

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Click on image above to go to result screen.

Short post to show another example and power of the wildcard asterisk. The image shows the results of comparing /bring to * boil/ in the American COCA and the British BNC.

A tweet¬† by @AnneHendler asked /In British English, is it considered more acceptable to say “Bring to the boil” or “bring to a boil”?/

@Marie_Sanako replied /I would always say ‘bring to the boil’./, both @cgoodey /I’d bring something to THE boil too!/ and @GemL1 agreed /”bring to the boil” is what I would say./ whilst @michaelegriffin added /if it’s about cooking I can only imagine myself or other am eng users sayin “a boil”. If metaphoric I dont know./.

Update:

I was reminded recently by a twitter exchange with  @rosemerebard that this online workshop is a great primer to using a corpus BYU: BNC & COCA.

One of the things I hope is clear with these Quick cup of COCA posts is that having a clearly stated problem/question will facilitate the search process.

Quick cup of COCA – wildcard asterisk

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Click image to see results of search.

This may or may not turn into a series of short posts on my experience of trying to use the COCA corpus in class. Inspired by the comments to this post by Kevin Stein/@kevchanwow.

A student in my TOEIC class, when we were looking at adjective endings -ED and -ING, asked what was the difference between “unmotivated” and “demotivated”. I replied that demotivated describes someone after some experience whereas unmotivated is a general state of being. I wasn’t too sure if that was sufficient so whilst the class was engaged in the following part of the lesson I used the wildcard asterisk, see image above.

And found out that the instances of “demotivated” were pretty low compared to “unmotivated”. I only transmitted the frequency information to the said student. If I had more time and a projector hooked up to the computer I would have looked at the example sentences in each case.

Do let me know of any searches you have done in class.