Semantic Prosody in Specialized Texts

The Case of Slovene and English Annual Reports


  • Matjaž Martič University of Ljubljana, School of Economics and Business, Slovenia



corpus, semantic prosody, genre, annual report, contrastive analysis


The paper discusses the semantic prosody of selected most frequent words from the field of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in annual reports of English and Slovene companies, which were studied using a corpus approach. The aim is to understand semantic prosody as an expression of evaluative meaning, which indicates the typical co-occurrence of words or phrases with lexical units that have a positive or negative meaning. Furthermore, semantic prosody also expresses the writer/speaker attitude and is thus a component of pragmatic or functional meaning. In studying semantic prosody, we focus on the concept of local prosody, according to which words in certain genres can establish local semantic prosodies, which typically occur only in those genres. We built a specialized corpus of English and Slovene annual reports, divided it into English and Slovene subcorpora and used corpus analysis to identify the most frequent words from the CSR domain in each subcorpus. We were interested in the differences or similarities between the semantic prosody of selected English and Slovene words. Based on collocational and colligational patterns and semantic preferences, and particularly on the study of wider contextual environment and its pragmatic interpretation, we identified the evaluative and pragmatic meanings of selected words. We found predominantly positive evaluative meanings for both English and Slovene words, and considerable similarities in their pragmatic meanings. We sought the reasons for this mainly in the structure of the subcorpora structure, which include texts belonging to the genre of annual reports. Annual reports of English and Slovene companies have both an informative and a persuasive function and, as a public relations tool, are intended to promote a positive image of the company. At the end of the paper, we emphasise the importance of semantic prosody in pedagogical practice and point out some possibilities for future research.


Download data is not yet available.


ATELŠEK, Simon/Tanja FAJFAR/Mateja JEMEC TOMAZIN/Mitja TROJAR/Mojca ŽAGAR KARER (2017) Invalid. Terminološka svetovalnica. 27. september 2021. https//:Invalid | ZRC SAZU (

BEDNAREK, Monika (2008) Semantic preference and semantic prosody re-examined. Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory 4(2), 119–139. DOI:

BENSON, Morton (1985) Collocations and Idioms. Robert Ilson (ur.), Dictionaries, Lexicography, and Language Learning. Oxford: Pergamon Institute of English, 61–68.

BERBER SARDINHA, Tony (2000) Semantic prosodies in English and Portuguese: A contrastive study. Cuadernos de Filologıa Inglesa 9(1), 93–110.

BHATIA, Vijay K. (1993) Analysing Genre: Language Use in Professional Settings. London: Longman.

BHATIA, Vijay K. (2004) Worlds of Written Discourse: A Genre-based View. London/New York: Continuum.

BHATIA, Vijay K. (2008) Towards Critical Genre Analysis. Vijay K. Bhatia, John Flowerdew in Rodney Jones (ur.), Advances in Discourse Studies. London: Routledge, 166–77. DOI:

BIBER, Douglas (1988) Variation across speech and writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. DOI:

CABEZAS-GARCÍA, Melania/Pamela FABER (2020) Semantic prosody and semantic preference in multi-word terms. Fachsprache. Journal of Professional and Scientific Communication 41(1-2), 2–21. DOI:

CLATWORTHY, Mark/Michael John JONES (2003) Financial reporting of good news and bad news: evidence from accounting narratives. Accounting and Business Research 33(3), 171–185. DOI:

DILTS, Philip/John NEWMAN (2006) A note on quantifying “good” and “bad” prosodies’. Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory 2(2), 233–242. DOI:

DITLEVSEN, Marianne Grove (2012) Telling the story of Danisco’s annual reports (1935 through 2007–2008) from a communicative perspective. Journal of Business and Technical Communication 26(1), 92–115. DOI:

EVROPSKA KOMISIJA (2001) Green Paper on Promoting a European Framework for Corporate Social Responsibility. 26. september 2021.

FUOLI, Matteo (2012) Assessing social responsibility: A quantitative analysis of Appraisal in BP’s and IKEA’s social reports. Discourse and Communication 6(1), 55–81. DOI:

FUOLI, Matteo (2017) Building a trustworthy corporate identity: A corpus-based analysis of stance in annual and corporate social responsibility reports. Applied Linguistics 39(6), 846–885. DOI:

GABROVŠEK, Dušan (2007) Connotation, Semantic Prosody, Syntagmatic Associative Meaning: Three Levels Of Meaning? ELOPE: English language overseas perspectives and enquiries 4(1-2), 9–28. DOI:

GRABOWSKI, Łukasz (2022) Provoke or encourage improvements? On semantic prosody in English-to-Polish translation. Perspectives 30(1), 120–136. DOI:

HAUSER, David/Norbert SCHWARZ (2018) How seemingly innocuous words can bias judgment: semantic prosody and impression formation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 75, 11–18. DOI:

HUNSTON, Susan (2002) Corpora in Applied Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. DOI:

HUNSTON, Susan (2007) Semantic prosody revisited. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 12, 249–268. DOI:

INŠTITUT ZA SLOVENSKI JEZIK FRANA RAMOVŠA ZRC SAZU (2014) Slovar slovenskega knjižnega jezika. Druga, dopolnjena in deloma prenovljena izdaja. Pridobljeno 7. junija 2021 iz

INŠTITUT ZA SLOVENSKI JEZIK FRANA RAMOVŠA ZRC SAZU (2014) Fran, slovarji Inštituta za slovenski jezik Frana Ramovša ZRC SAZU – različica 8.0. Pridobljeno 7. junija 2021 iz

JURKO, Primož (2012) Collocation Errors in Encoding and Possible Cures: Dictionaries Vs. Corpora. Mojca Šorli (ur.), Dvojezična korpusna leksikografija. Slovenščina v kontekstu: novi izzivi, novi obeti. Ljubljana: Trojina, 72–89.

JURKO, Primož (2017) Pragmatic meaning in contrast: semantic prosodies of Slovene and English. Perspectives 25(1), 157–176. DOI:

JURKO, Primož (2021) Semantic Prosody in Translation: Slovene and English ADV-V combinations. ELOPE: English Language Overseas Perspectives and Enquiries 18(1), 187–209. DOI:

JURKO, Primož (2022) Semantic prosody of Slovene adverb-verb collocations: introducing the top-down approach. Corpora 17(1), 39–67. DOI:

KJELLMER, Göran (2005) Collocations and Semantic Prosody. Povzetek. American Association for Applied Corpus Linguistics. 12 – 15 May 2005, Ann Arbor. 24. november 2019. https://abstract48.pdf (

KÜBLER, Natalie/Alexandra VOLANSCHI (2012) Semantic Prosody and Specialised Translation, or How a Lexico-Grammatical Theory of Language Can Help with Specialised Translation. Alex Boulton, Shirley Carter-Thomas in Elisabeth Rowley-Jolivet (ur.), Corpus Informed Research and Learning in ESP: Issues and applications. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 103–134. DOI:

LEXICAL COMPUTING (b. d.) SketchEngine. 1. september 2016. https://Create and search a text corpus | Sketch Engine.

LOUW, Bill (1993) Irony in the Text or Insincerity in the Writer? The Diagnostic Potential of Semantic Prosodies. Mona Baker, Gill Francis in Elena Tognini-Bonelli (ur.), Text and Technology: In Honour of John Sinclair. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 157–176. DOI:

LOUW, Bill (2000) Contextual prosodic theory: bringing semantic prosodies to life. Chris Heffer in Helen Sauntson (ur.), Words in Context: A Tribute to John Sinclair on his Retirement. Birmingham: University of Birmingham, 48–94.

LOUW, Bill/Charmela C. CHÂTEAU (2010) Semantic prosody for the 21st century: Are prosodies smoothed in academic contexts? A contextual prosodic theoretical perspective. Sergio Bolasco, Isabella Chiari in Luca Giuliano (ur.), Proceedings of 10th International Conference Journées d’analyse statistique des données textuelles 9–11 June 2010. Milano: Edizioni Universitarie di Lettere Economia Diritto, 755–764.

MARTIČ, Matjaž (2022) Razširjena enota pomena v slovenskih in angleških letnih poročilih. Neobjavljena doktorska disertacija. Ljubljana: Univerza v Ljubljani.

MCENERY, Anthony M./Richard Z. XIAO/Yukio TONO (2006) Corpus-Based Language Studies: An Advanced Resource Book. London: Routledge.

MCENERY, Tony/Andrew HARDIE (2012) Corpus Linguistics: Method, Theory and Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. DOI:

MCGEE, Iain (2012) Should we teach semantic prosody awareness? RELC Journal 43(2), 169–186. DOI:

NELSON, Mike (2006) Semantic Associations in Business English: A Corpus-Based Analysis. English for Specific Purposes 25(2), 217–234. DOI:

NIDORFER ŠIŠKOVIČ, Mojca (2009) Žanrski pristop k analizi poslovnih e-sporočil. Infrastruktura slovenščine in slovenistike. M. Stabej (ur.), Obdobja 28. Ljubljana: Znanstvena založba Filozofske fakultete Univerze v Ljubljani, 271– 277.

O’HALLORAN, Kieran (2007) Corpus-assisted literary evaluation. Corpora 2(1), 33–68. DOI:

PARTINGTON, Alan (1998) Patterns and Meanings: Using Corpora for English Language Research and Teaching. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. DOI:

PARTINGTON, Alan (2004) “Utterly content in each other’s company”. Semantic prosody and semantic preference. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 9(1), 131–156. DOI:

RUNDELL, Michael (2018) Searching for Extended Units of Meaning – And What to Do When You Find Them. Lexicography Journal of Asialex 5, 5–21. DOI:

RUTHERFORD, Brian A. (2005) Genre Analysis of Corporative Annual Report Naratives. A Corpus Linguistics-Based Approach. Journal of Business Communication 42(4), 349–378. DOI:

SINCLAIR, John (1996) The Search for Units of Meaning. TEXTUS 9(1), 75–106.

SINCLAIR, John (2004) Trust the Text: Language, Corpus and Discourse. London: Routledge. DOI:

STEWART, Dominic (2010) Semantic Prosody. A Critical Evaluation. London: Routledge. DOI:

STUBBS, Michael (1995) Collocations and semantic profiles: on the cause of the trouble with quantitative studies. Functions of Language 2(1), 23–55. DOI:

STUBBS, Michael (2001) Words and Phrases: Corpus Studies of Lexical Semantics. Oxford: Blackwell.

SWALES, John M. (1990) Genre Analysis: English in Academic and Research Settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

ŠORLI, Mojca (2013a) Pragmatični pomen in semantična prozodija v medjezični perspektivi: primer slovenščine in angleščine. Špela Vintar (ur.), Slovenski prevodi skozi korpusno prizmo. Ljubljana: Znanstvena založba FF, 180–205.

ŠORLI, Mojca (2013b) Forms of encoded pragmatic meaning: semantic prosody: A lexicographic perspective. Lingue e linguaggi 10, 95–112.

ŠORLI, Mojca (2020) Semantična prozodija: leksikalni in besedilno-diskurzivni vidiki. Ljubljana: Založba ZRC. DOI:

TRIBBLE, Christoper (2000) Genres, keywords, teaching: towards a pedagogic account of the language of project proposals. Lou Burnard in Tony McEnery (ur.), Rethinking Language Pedagogy from a Corpus Perspective. Papers from the third international conference on Teaching and Language Corpora. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 75–90.

WARREN, Beatrice (2005) A Model of Idiomaticity. Nordic Journal of English Studies 4(1), 35–54. DOI:

WEI, Naixing/Xiaohong LI (2020) Exploring the roles of semantic prosody and semantic preference for achieving cross-language equivalence: A corpus-based contrastive analysis of translation pairs in English and Chinese. Kaibao Hu in Kyung Hye Kim (ur.), Corpus-based translation and interpreting studies in Chinese contexts: Present and future. Cham: Palgrave McMillan, 115–154. DOI:

WHITSITT, Sam (2005) A critique of the concept of semantic prosody. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 10(3), 283–305. DOI:

XIAO, Richard/Tony MCENERY (2006) Collocation, Semantic Prosody, and Near Synonymy: A Cross-Linguistic Perspective. Applied Linguistics 27(1), 103–129. DOI:

ZHANG, Hong (2021) What do you know about semantic prosody? Teaching and evaluating implicit knowledge of English with corpus-assisted methods. English in Education 55(4) 337–350. DOI:



How to Cite

Martič, M. (2022). Semantic Prosody in Specialized Texts: The Case of Slovene and English Annual Reports. Journal for Foreign Languages, 14(1), 7–26.




Most read articles by the same author(s)