The Usage of Colligations of Preposition among Malaysian Law Undergraduates: A Needs Analysis

Legal English (legalese) is a legal language that many legal linguists consider to be antiquated, verbose, and conventionalized. Legalese’s verbosity is mostly owing to the highly technical usage of nominalization, which is primarily produced by lexico-grammatical patterns of preposition colligations. The widespread use of technical collocation (lexical collocation and grammatical collocation (colligation)) in legal English writings has frequently hampered the comprehension of texts by English as a Second Language (ESL) law students, particularly those studying law in Malaysia. Collocational competency in these patterns, on the other hand, is critical for law students’ success in the legal academic area, particularly when writing legal academic articles. Because there has been little research on the colligational ability of Malaysian law students, this needs analysis study looked at the use of colligations of preposition in the Problem Questions essays of law undergraduate students at a Malaysian public institution. This was a descriptive study in which the frequency and percentages of students’ usage of colligations of preposition in essay writing were examined. This university’s 40 semester three law undergraduate students were chosen to participate in the study. For this objective, two types of data were collected: interview replies and participants’ generation of preposition colligations in essay writing. Only eight of the forty students participated in the interview, but they all completed the essay test a week later. The Surface Strategy Taxonomy of Dulay et al. (1982) was utilised to analyse prepositional patterns in the Problem Question essays, and the interview responses were manually analysed in topic (of legal contract genre). The findings revealed that interlingual (L1 negative transfer, i.e., Malay) and intralingual (difficulty with the L2 itself, i.e., legalese) interference, as well as improper teaching methods in teaching preposition (i.e., drilling), resulted in many erroneous patterns, which can be linked to their lack of lexico-grammatical competence. According to the findings, needs analysis studies are critical in the subject of law in order to identify the target and learning requirements of law students. It is proposed that law schools revise their curricula to include explicit instruction of colligation of preposition as a technique of boosting law students’ language skills. This research is important because it encourages law professors, course designers, and legal practitioners to rethink the provision of legal materials for ELAP (English for Legal Academic Purposes) courses in higher education.

Author(s) Details:

Kamariah Yunus,
Faculty of Languages and Communication, Sultan Zainal Abidin University, Gong Badak Campus,21300, Kuala Nerus, Malaysia.

Su’ad Awab,
Faculty of Languages and Communication, Sultan Zainal Abidin University, Gong Badak Campus,21300, Kuala Nerus, Malaysia.

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