Date of Award

Spring 4-30-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Applied Linguistics and English as a Second Language

First Advisor

Viviana Cortes

Second Advisor

Diane Belcher

Third Advisor

YouJin Kim

Fourth Advisor

Isaiah WonHo Yoo


Formulaic language is widely used in academic prose and is known to be a useful measure of various aspects of language development. This dissertation investigates lexical bundles (LBs), a particular type of frequently occurring multiword sequence, in the academic writing of native and nonnative English-speaking first-year university students. An increasing number of studies have identified LBs specific to academic prose and compared native and nonnative and/or expert and novice writing. Yet the findings of these studies remain inconclusive, partly due to their use of texts in different academic registers, which inevitably affects the choice and usage of formulaic sequences. Furthermore, previous studies have claimed that nonnative writers use fewer and/or less varied LBs than native speakers; however, very little LB research has investigated problematic target forms in L2 English written production. In addition, we still lack a comprehensive framework for comparing native and nonnative writers’ use of formulaic language. To address these gaps, the present study has four specific goals. First, the study complements recent studies comparing native and nonnative writers’ LB production by investigating nonnative writers’ attempts to use bundles, as shown in their production of near-target forms containing errors. Second, this research examines to what extent entering undergraduate students who are native and nonnative speakers of English produce LBs, using comparable corpora strictly matched for register and writing prompts. Third, it investigates how newcomers to the university setting integrate LBs into their writing in context by analyzing the bundles’ syntactic roles and co-occurring structures. Finally, the study extends the functional analysis of LBs with respect to semantic prosody and preference by investigating shared bundles, that is, the LBs used by both groups in the same semantic domains. The findings are informative regarding the extent to which native and nonnative students who are just transitioning to the university setting arrive equipped with certain discourse conventions. The study thus adds to our understanding of the use of lexical bundles by different language groups and provides useful information for teaching academic writing to novice academic writers.