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The filling in the sandwich: internal modification of idioms
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2007 (English)In: Corpus Linguistics 25 Years on, Rodopi, Amsterdam , 2007, 205-224 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Idiomatic expressions—defined as (relatively) fixed and semantically opaque units such as 'a one-horse town' or 'buy the farm' (= ‘die’)—are basically self-contained, but can be “anchored” in the discourse at hand via e.g. post-modification: "A great many people thought that the pendulum of permissiveness had swung too far." But internal expansion is also possible: "These dangers are being swept under the risk-factor rug." Using the BNC and newspaper CDs as corpora of sufficient size (approximately 300 million words in all), the patterns and frequency of such anchoring internal expansions in contemporary English are investigated, and compared with those for alternative formulations and the simplex form. Anchoring internal expansion is found to be generally possible, and occasionally inventive, but usually infrequent (with exceptions such as 'not have a leg to stand on'); anchoring the idiom via exemplification in a following clause is a primary discourse alternative.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Rodopi, Amsterdam , 2007. 205-224 p.
Keyword [en]
idioms, corpus linguistics, FEI, internal modification
National Category
Specific Languages
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-17854ISBN: 978-90-420-2195-2 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-17854DiVA: diva2:184375
Available from: 2007-10-16 Created: 2007-10-16 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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Citation style
  • apa
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