SoSe 15: AS Levels of Linguistic Analysis II: Idioms, Collocations, Phraseology
As language is traditionally seen as combining 'words' with syntactic 'rules' to create meaning, the study - and teaching - of syntax and the lexicon is very often kept separate. Yet, in actual ... read more
As language is traditionally seen as combining 'words' with syntactic 'rules' to create meaning, the study - and teaching - of syntax and the lexicon is very often kept separate. Yet, in actual language use the two levels are far more interconnected than traditional grammar writing teaches us: why is it that things cause problems but rarely cause happiness? What does it tell us about lexical relations and meaning that you order dry wine, but not wet wine or that you prefer strong tea over powerful tea? What is the difference between near-synonyms such as big and large?
Even these very basic examples illustrate that meaning rarely resides in individual words, but in the patterns and combinations they occur in. Such patterns can be fixed or semi-fixed, as in the case of proverbs or idioms (to kick the bucket or to speak someone's mind), but extend to all kinds of lexical items and constructions that love to 'keep each other's company'.
As native speakers of a language we have intuitive knowledge of the preferences in co-selection of words ('collocations') and how they pattern (their 'phraseology'). In turn, mastering these patterns and selectional preferences in a foreign language is what makes a learner more 'fluent' or 'native-like' and is thus at least equally important as the knowledge about the lexicon and grammatical 'rules'.
In this course, we embark on a hands-on journey into the study of idiomatic language, i.e. its lexical patterns: how do we describe and analyse the lexico-grammatical structure of English? Thus, this course will provide a practical introduction to the tools used in Corpus Linguistics to study actual language use (you shouldn't be afraid of computers!). Requirements are weekly readings, a presentation, regular research tasks and a small research report (aka 'term paper').