LINGUIST List 20.2380

Fri Jul 03 2009

Review: Syntax: Lareo Martin (2008)

Editor for this issue: Randall Eggert <>

        1.    Louisa Buckingham, Estudio de las estructuras verbo-nombre en un corpus de textos literarios

Message 1: Estudio de las estructuras verbo-nombre en un corpus de textos literarios
Date: 03-Jul-2009
From: Louisa Buckingham <>
Subject: Estudio de las estructuras verbo-nombre en un corpus de textos literarios
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AUTHOR: Lareo Martín, Inés TITLE: Estudio de las estructuras verbo-nombre en un corpus de textos literarios SUBTITLE: Las colocaciones en inglés moderno tardío SERIES: Studies in English Linguistics PUBLISHER: LINCOM YEAR: 2008

Louisa Buckingham, Sabanci University, Universidad de Granada.

This book, fruit of the author's doctoral thesis at the University of A Coruña, deals with verb-noun combinations (broadly also covering those known as verb support or light verb combinations), using the verbs _make_, _take_, _have_ and _do_. It constitutes a comprehensive study of these combinations from a collocational perspective using a specialized corpus created by the author comprising 900,000 words of literary texts by nineteenth century British writers. The study seeks the frequency of use of these collocations in literary language between 1800 and 1930, the degree of collocational stability of the four verbs studied, the degree to which the author's gender, age and geographical origin contribute to the frequency of use of these combinations and the degree to which the verbs _make-do_ and _take-have_ are used interchangeably. The author also provides a brief analysis of the morphosyntactical properties of the noun.

The work consists of eight chapters, including an introduction and conclusion. Chapters two to five constitute an overview of the concept of collocation and a presentation of the approach employed by the author in the present study. For readers new to the study of verb-noun collocations with a support verb, chapters two to four provide a useful synthesis of relevant literature in English.

In chapter two, Lareo Martín positions collocations within the broader context of phraseological expressions, and provides an overview of previous conceptualizations of collocations. In chapter three, she gives a critical overview of the inclusion of constructions with a light verb (_make_, _do_, _have_ etc.) in twentieth century grammars of English before moving on to a discussion of terminology used to refer to the verb (light verb, support verb, delexical verb, functional verb etc.). In the following chapter, the author summarizes previous attempts at taxonomies of verb-noun collocations with a light verb. She closes the chapter with a discussion of the challenges these combinations present to second language learners, translation and lexicography.

In chapter five, Lareo Martín outlines the approach she has taken in her study to verb-noun collocations within the framework of Mel'cuk (1998). In chapter six, she discusses in detail the process of compiling her corpus. The author addresses the hypothesis previously posited by other scholars that socio-economic changes of the nineteenth century impacted language use, with specific focus on the frequency of verb-noun combination use. Her approach to this question has been to divide her corpus into three periods (1800-1850; 1850-1900; 1900-1930), and identify further variables such as gender, geographical location, and the author's age when each work was produced.

The analysis of the corpus was undertaken using the program Text Search version 2.4 (Alcott, 2003), and the compilation and organization of data was managed using the _Access 2000_ data base. The author includes ample use of illustrations and tables displaying how combinations were saved and ordered. The detailed nature of the results is due to the author's careful compilation of the corpus. Firstly, the author confirms that, in contrast to what had been previously maintained by scholars based on introspective analysis, the number of verb-noun combinations display a gradual decline over the period of 1800 to 1900. With respect to gender, the author's data suggest that a slight preference exists for the use of these combinations among males.

Lareo Martín presents a detailed analysis of the use of each of the four verbs in her corpus. _Have_ is the most prolific verb in verbo-noun collocations. As the author explains, among the 957 lexemes in her corpus, 502 correspond to the verb _have_. The second most common verb, _make_ is just over half as common as _have_, but its frequency shows a marked decline at the beginning of the twentieth century. _Take_, slightly more infrequent than make, is followed by _do_, which, representing under seven per cent of the examples, proves to be the most infrequent, but also is the only verb which is used more frequently by female authors.

The author's discussion of individual verb frequency is followed by an analysis of morphosyntactic characteristics of the combinations such as the use of determiners, adjectival modification, plural forms, negation, variation in verb choice (examples from her corpus are provided). The author comments extensively on variation of verb choice (e.g. _have/take a bath_) due to the attention it has received previously by linguists (Wierzbicka, 1982, Dixon, 1992) in the context of diatopic variation. The author ascertains, however, that no such claim can be made on the basis of her data as forms previously ascribed to US English appeared amply within her own British English corpus. Indeed, she shows that rivalry between _have_ - _take_ and _make_ - _do_ occurs frequently among British authors, continuing even in contemporary language use. She does, however, point to a gradual increase in the use of _make_ in place of _do_ in the nineteenth century.

The book ends with a number of appendices displaying the results obtained from Lareo Martín's corpus.

EVALUATION There are few studies involving a specialized electronic corpus of verb-noun combinations, and this alone makes this book an important work in the area of English language phraseology. The author's careful construction of her corpus (as detailed in chapter six), which thus enables a similarly detailed analysis of data, further contributes to the book's undeniable value. As the author herself notes, one of the invaluable contributions of corpus work is the possibility it provides the researcher to describe authentic language use, and the results derived from corpus work may often negate previously held understandings of language use based on introspective source. The author's data serves to challenge (but also support) previous assumptions on more than one occasion.

A point of curiosity concerns why the author chose to extend her study to all verb-noun combinations, rather than limit herself to those which qualify as verb support constructions, given that much of her preliminary theoretical discussion, as well as her analysis of data focus on these verb support constructions. It is interesting to note that the vast majority of the results listed in the appendix, constitute such constructions. The reader may also wish further detail with regard to morphosyntactic features. For example, although the author makes passing mention of the phenomenon of what is sometimes known as complex or co-ordinated constructions in her initial description of verb noun combinations, there is no mention of these in her subsequent analysis of her data, despite the appearance of one such construction in her examples (_making all manner of horrid faces and silly protestations_ [p.164]). Further, more detailed analysis of the different types of adjectival modification (e.g. multiple adjectives, adjectival and adverbial modification etc.) might have been included. Regardless, the book is a valuable contribution to the study of phraseology and, more specifically, to the study of collocations and verb support constructions.

REFERENCES Alcott, G. (2003) Super Text Search. Ver. 2.4

Dixon, R. M. W. (1992) _A new approach to English grammar on semantic principals_. Oxford: Claredon Press.

Mel'cuk, I. (1998) Collocations and lexical functions. In A. P. Cowie, ed., _Phraseology, theory, analysis and applications_. Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press.

Wierzbicka, A. (1982) Why can you have a drink when you can't *have an eat? _Language_, 58, 753-799.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER Louisa Buckingham completed her Ph.D. at the University of Granada (Spain) in the area of phraseology (verb support constructions in a specialized corpus). She has taught second language acquisition and academic writing at the University of Tuzla (Bosnia) and Sabanci University (Turkey). She has published in the areas of phraseology, and second language writing.