A look at collocates of ‘man up’

man up



For this post, I want to take a closer look at the collocates of ‘man up’, as I find it to be a somewhat problematic phrase used by John Kerry when advising Edward Snowden to return to the US from Russia and face the consequences of his NSA revelations.

The looking extract is taken from the BBC:


“A patriot would not run away,” Mr Kerry said on Wednesday. “If Mr Snowden wants to come back to the United States… we’ll have him on a flight today.”

Mr Kerry also called the former National Security Agency contractor “confused”, adding “this is a man who has done great damage to his country”.

“He should man up and come back to the US,” Mr Kerry said.

For this blog, I use Sketch EngineĀ http://www.sketchengine.co.uk/ and look at the enTenTen12 corpus, which is a 12 billion word corpus of English texts taken from the Internet.

A search of the corpus produced 6,613 instances of the phrase ‘man up’, 0.5 per million.

I am interested in looking at the collocates of this phrase, which produced the following list ordered by MI score:

collocates of man up


However, as I am interested in the verbal phrase ‘man up’ and not the prepositional phrase, I had to study concordance lines in order to eliminate collocates which were not associated with the verbal phrase. A second list of collocates was then produced, again ordered by MI score:

1) pussies, 2) admit, 3) apologized, 4) apologize, 5) whining, 6) gotta, 7) fucking, 8) admitting, 9) whoever, 10) dude, 11) Guys, 12) complaining, 13) decides, 14) excuses, 15) bitch, 16) responsibility, 17) balls, 18) pussy, 19) fuck, 20) quit

Although the phrase ‘man up’ appears to be associated with the act of taking responsibility and accepting the consequences of certain actions, there also appears to be other potential discourses associated with the phrase which may be considered as sexist, demeaning and derogatory. In the next post, I will look at these collocates in context in order to study the discourse prosodies of this verbal phrase further.