A Corpus-Based, Comparative Study of 'Wage' and 'Salary' Essay

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Introduction:
In the English language, total synonymy is extremely rare, as two words would have to be completely interchangeable in any context to qualify. This criterion has consequently led to it being “commonly asserted that absolute, perfect, or full synonyms do not exist” (Divjak 2010:3). However, there are clearly examples where terms significantly overlap in semantic space, and this expansive set of near-synonyms includes the nouns ‘wage’ and ‘salary’. This study explored whether the two words are used differently in texts, despite having extremely similar dictionary definitions. According to ‘Cambridge Dictionaries Online’, both ‘wage’ and ‘salary’ involve a “fixed amount of money” paid to an employee for their services, and they
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Introduction:
In the English language, total synonymy is extremely rare, as two words would have to be completely interchangeable in any context to qualify. This criterion has consequently led to it being “commonly asserted that absolute, perfect, or full synonyms do not exist” (Divjak 2010:3). However, there are clearly examples where terms significantly overlap in semantic space, and this expansive set of near-synonyms includes the nouns ‘wage’ and ‘salary’. This study explored whether the two words are used differently in texts, despite having extremely similar dictionary definitions. According to ‘Cambridge Dictionaries Online’, both ‘wage’ and ‘salary’ involve a “fixed amount of money” paid to an employee for their services, and they are cited as synonyms on the website ‘Thesaurus.com’. However, the two are not completely substitutable in discourse, and my investigation will show that the usage of each item is dependent on external factors, such as the type of job and the length of time being discussed.
Methodology:
I analysed ‘wage’ and ‘salary’ using three categories: their respective histories, patterns of use, and specific use in a text. For the first section, I used various sources, including websites ‘Etymonline.com’ and ‘Oxford English Dictionary Online’. I then explored individual aspects of the etymologies given, using other resources in a narrower search.
Secondly, I used the corpus query system ‘Sketch Engine’ and its corpus ‘enTenTen12’ to analyse patterns

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