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The College Idiom: Idioms in the COLL Corpus
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2008 (English)In: ICAME Journal: Computers in English Linguistics, ISSN 0801-5775, no 32, 115-39 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

As with much of vocabulary, idioms in the stricter sense appear to be acquired continually throughout one’s lifetime. Since most of the material in current large-scale corpora comes from writers well out of their teens, the 3.7 M word COLL corpus of college student online newspapers from Australia, the British Isles, New Zealand, North America and South Africa (Minugh 2002) provides one of the few already-compiled sources of writing by 20-year-olds, and thus is an interesting starting point for an investigation of which idioms are in use in the writing of university students in the English-speaking world when they address their peers. Using the idioms specified in the Collins COBUILD Dictionary of Idioms as our starting point, the COLL corpus will be examined for use of idioms. Specific questions to investigate include which idioms occur, their geographic and subgenre distribution, their positions in the texts and their textual functions. Idiom-breaking, i.e. playful variation, may also be expected to occur in this particular genre, and the corpus can provide an indication of how prevalent this is, as well.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. no 32, 115-39 p.
Keyword [en]
corpus linguistics, idioms, online newspapers
National Category
Specific Languages
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-17053OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-17053DiVA: diva2:183573
Available from: 2009-01-05 Created: 2009-01-05 Last updated: 2014-08-26Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Studies in Corpora and Idioms: Getting the cat out of the bag
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Studies in Corpora and Idioms: Getting the cat out of the bag
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

“Idiomatic” expressions, usually called “idioms”, such as a dime a dozen, a busman’s holiday, or to have bats in your belfry are a curious part of any language: they usually have a fixed lexical (why a busman?) and structural composition (only dime and dozen in direct conjunction mean ‘common, ordinary’), can be semantically obscure (why bats?), yet are widely recognized in the speech community, in spite of being so rare that only large corpora can provide us with access to sufficient empirical data on their use.

In this compilation thesis, four published studies focusing on idioms in corpora are presented. Study 1 details the creation of and data in the author’s medium-sized corpus from 1999, the 3.7 million word Coll corpus of online university student newspapers, with comparisons to data from standard corpora of the time. Study 2 examines the extent to which recognized idioms are to be found in the Coll corpus and how they can be varied. Study 3 draws upon the British National Corpus and a series of British and American newspaper corpora to see how idioms may be “anchored” in their contexts, primarily by the device of premodification via an adjective appropriate to the context, not to the idiom. Study 4 examines idiom-usage patterns in the Time Magazine corpus, focusing on possible aspects of diachronic change over the near-century Time represents.

The introductory compilation chapter places and discusses these studies in their contexts of contemporary idiom and corpus research; building on these studies, it provides two specific examples of potential ways forward in idiom research: an examination of the idioms used in a specific subgenre of newspapers (editorials), and a detailed suggestion for teachers about how to examine multiple facets of a specific modern idiom (the glass ceiling) in the classroom. Finally, a summing-up includes suggestions for further research, particularly at the level of the patterning of individual idioms, rather than treating them as a homogeneous phenomenon.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of English, Stockholm University, 2014. 217 p.
Keyword
Coll corpus, corpora, corpus creation, idioms, idiom variation, idiom-breaking, online newspapers, student newspapers, college newspapers
National Category
Specific Languages
Research subject
English
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-18029 (URN)978-91-7447-975-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-10-11, Lecture Hall 7 D, Universitetsvägen 10 D, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-09-18 Created: 2007-10-16 Last updated: 2014-12-16Bibliographically approved

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