LINGUIST List 23.2248

Thu May 10 2012

Review: Applied Ling.; Linguistic Theories; Psycholing.: Herbst et al. (2011)

Editor for this issue: Joseph Salmons <>

Date: 10-May-2012
From: Phoebe Lin <>
Subject: The Phraseological View of Language
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EDITORS: Herbst, Thomas; Faulhaber, Susen & Uhrig, PeterTITLE: The Phraseological View of LanguageSUBTITLE: A Tribute to John SinclairPUBLISHER: De Gruyter MoutonYEAR: 2011

Phoebe M.S. Lin, Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics, CityUniversity of Hong Kong

SUMMARYHerbst, Faulhaber and Uhrig's 'The phraseological view of language' is a tributeto the late John Sinclair, whose insights and vision for lexis and corpuslinguistics continue to inspire many studies on phraseology. The volume bringstogether 16 papers from the workshop Chunks in Corpus Linguistics and CognitiveLinguistics held in Erlangen, Germany in October 2007. Papers are presented infour sections: I. John McH. Sinclair and his contribution to linguistics(Preface and Chapters 1-2), II. The concept of collocation: theoretical andpedagogical aspects (Chapters 3-8), III. Variation and change (Chapters 9-12)and IV. Computational aspects (Chapters 13-15).

Chapter 1, 'A tribute to John McHardy Sinclair (14 June 1933-13 March 2007)', byMichael Stubbs presents Sinclair's life and contributions in three relatedareas, namely language in education, discourse analysis and corpus-assistedlexicography. Sinclair was strongly influenced by the tradition of Britishempiricism and had a great passion for research on spoken English, classroomdiscourse and corpus-based lexicography. His most notable works include hissearch for units of meaning, the Birmingham discourse model, the OSTI report,the COBUILD project and Linear Unit Grammar.

Chapter 2, 'Corpus, lexis, discourse: a tribute to John Sinclair', by StigJohansson highlights Sinclair's contributions in redefining lexis and placinglexis at the centre of the study of language. At a time when most linguistschampioned grammar over lexis, Sinclair's foresight to bring lexis to centrestage was clearly demonstrated in the early 1970s in the OSTI Report. In therest of the chapter, Johansson continues to highlight Sinclair's varioussuccesses in discourse analysis in the mid-1970s, the development of monitorcorpora and the COBUILD project in the 1980s, the analysis of collocation,colligation, semantic preference and semantic prosody in the 1990s, and theproposal of Linear Unit Grammar (with Anna Mauranen) in the new millennium.

Chapter 3, 'Choosing sandy beaches -- collocations, probabemes and the idiomprinciple', by Thomas Herbst treats Sinclair's concepts of collocation andsingle choices in detail. Like many others, Herbst maintains the distinctionbetween semantically-significant collocations and statistically-significant wordcombinations. He argues that statistically significant word combinations do notall by default constitute single choices from a cognitive perspective (and,therefore, are collocations). They have to be tested on a number of factorsincluding whether they represent a conceptual unit in the speech community andwhether they are established uses in a language.

Chapter 4, 'Sinclair revisited: beyond idiom and open choice', by Dirk Siepmannintroduces the principle of creativity to complement Sinclair's idiom andopen-choice principles, and discusses how the three principles may shape theteaching of translation. The new principle of creativity is founded on the basisof Sinclair's open-choice principle. Upon examination of Hausmann's (2007) andSinclair's typologies of collocations, Siepmann observes that Sinclair's idiomand open-choice principles can be divided further into finer types: co-creationand collocation under the idiom principle, and analogical creation andcounter-creation under the open-choice principle. Analogical creation, as asub-type, is also called the principle of creativity. It refers to wordcombinations which 'constitute a more or less deliberate deviation from acceptednorms that can be accounted for in terms of a set of semantic relations such asanalogical transfer, lexical substitution, metaphor or metonymy' (p. 65).

Chapter 5, 'Accessing second-order collocation through lexical co-occurrencenetworks', by Eugène Mollet, Alison Wray and Tess Fitzpatrick introduces a newconcept called second-order collocation. The authors argue that the analysis ofthe collocates of a node word's collocates (hence, second-order collocation) mayyield new insights into the collocational behaviour of a word. The highlysensitive second-order collocation analysis becomes particularly useful whenexisting collocation analysis methods fail to discern subtle relationshipsbetween words. Unlike traditional collocation analysis, the notion ofsecond-order collocation recognises that in any lexical network a node word'scollocational behaviour can change depending on the presence of other words. Inorder to show the subtle differences between lexical items, second-ordercollocation analysis goes beyond the consideration of the collocation pair(i.e., a node word and a collocate) and captures the potential influence of athird word on the pair using a specially-developed formula. After ademonstration of this formula using various examples, the chapter ends with adiscussion of the potential applications of second-order collocation analysisfor the disambiguation of word meaning and in the areas of stylistics andcritical discourse analysis.

Chapter 6, 'From phraseology to pedagogy: challenges and prospects', by SylvianeGranger examines the confusion surrounding the lexical approach to languagelearning. According to Granger, 'the diverging interpretations of the veryconcept of lexical approach and the very forceful pronouncements found in theliterature are liable to create confusion in the minds of teachers and materialsdesigners and may even end up being less -- rather than more -- efficient inlearning terms' (p. 124). Therefore, the paper sets out to clarify thedefinition, scope, strengths and weaknesses of the lexical approach. There arethree major challenges when it comes to the practical implementation of theapproach: the lack of a clear description of effective classroom methodology,the lack of appropriate terminologies in teaching to describe multiword units,and the need to develop criteria to guide the selection of multiword units forteaching. The chapter ends with a discussion of the role of learner corpora inthe development of the lexical approach.

Chapter 7, 'Chunks and the effective learner -- a few remarks concerning foreignlanguage teaching and lexicography', by Dieter Götz discusses the acquisition ofphraseology from a lexicographer's perspective. The author begins by noting theimportance of acquiring phraseology in context. In other words, the learnershould be able to connect phraseology with a concrete situation in which it isused so that he/she will also remember the communicative factors (e.g.,register, social distance and jargon) associated with the phraseology. Götzhighlights the usefulness of bridge dictionaries (or dictionaries that presentitems in the learner's native language) in showing learners a phrase's contextof use. As he argues, examples in the target language will help to re-enforce alearner's understanding of the unknown item only if the learner already knowsthe phrase (and can associate the phrase with its context of use). If thelearner has never encountered the example utterance before, only a carefullychosen and translated example in the learner's native language can raise his/herawareness of the appropriate context of use of the unknown phrase.

Chapter 8, 'Exploring the phraseology of ESL and EFL varieties', by NadjaNesselhauf investigates the phraseological patterns in ESL and EFL varietiesrepresented respectively by the International Corpus of English (ICE) and theInternational Corpus of Learner English (ICLE). Comparisons between the ESL andEFL varieties were drawn across three domains: competing collocations (e.g.,play a role versus play a part, take into account versus take account of),internal variability of collocations (e.g., no intention of V-ing in BritishEnglish versus have every/the intention or have intentions or have intention toin ESL and EFL varieties) and the emergence of new prepositional verbs (e.g.,answer to, approach to and discuss about). In analysing the distribution of anumber of example phraseologies in the ESL and EFL corpora and the BritishNational Corpus (BNC), the author shows that some patterns of phraseology usedin ESL varieties (e.g., those pertaining to the internal variability ofcollocations) lie in between those of British English and the EFL varieties.However, other patterns in ESL varieties (e.g., those pertaining to theemergence of new prepositional verbs) appear further removed from the L1patterns than the EFL varieties.

Chapter 9, 'Writing the history of spoken standard English in the twentiethcentury', by Christian Mair uses the cases of the specificational cleft, modalverbs/periphrastic forms and s-genitives to exemplify three possible scenariosof diachronic change in speech and writing. The rare first scenario, that changeproceeds simultaneously in speech and writing, is demonstrated in the case ofthe specificational cleft structure all I did is X, where X can be theto-infinitive (as in, all I did was to ask), the bare infinitive (as in, all Idid was ask) or the V-ing (as in, the other thing I'm doing is trying). The muchmore common second scenario is that change proceeds broadly along parallel linesin speech and writing albeit at a different pace. This scenario is exemplifiedby the case of modal verbs/periphrastic structures (e.g., must, have got to andneed to). The third scenario is that speech and writing demonstrate autonomousdevelopment, as in the cases of the finite-clause clefts (e.g., all I did was Iasked) and s-genitives. Each scenario is illustrated with a wealth of examplesfrom five corpora in the Brown family (i.e., representing written BritishEnglish: B-LOB, LOB and F-LOB, and representing written American English: Brownand Frown) and the spoken language corpus, the DCPSE.

Chapter 10, 'Prefabs in spoken English', by Brigitta Mittmann compares the useof phraseology in American and British English. By examining the demographicpart of the British National Corpus (3.9 million words) and the Longman SpokenAmerican Corpus (LSAC, 4.9 million words), the author shows that American andBritish phraseologies demonstrate small but crucial differences. For instance,the two varieties have established differences in the use of articles (e.g., geta hold of (something) in American English versus get hold of (something) inBritish English). In addition, many phraseologies associated with responses toanother speaker's turn (e.g., no, I won't; yeah I know and oh I see) are usedmuch more frequently in British English than in American English. Because of themarkedly high frequency of phrases such as no, it isn't and yes it is in BritishEnglish, Mittmann argues that they should be regarded as prefabricated despitetheir syntactic regularity.

Chapter 11, 'Observations on the phraseology of academic writing: local patterns-- local meanings?', by Ute Römer presents a study of the semantic prosodies ofhigh-frequency phrases in the 3.5 million word Book Reviews in LinguisticsCorpus (BRILC). Using a combination of phraseological search-engines (i.e.,Collocate, kfNgram and ConcGram), Römer identified and analysed the evaluativemeaning of four phrases: lie in, at the same time, it seems to me, and on theother hand. While these phrases are found to demonstrate different semanticprosodies in the book reviews corpus (lie in and at the same time: positive; itseems to me: negative; on the other hand: in-between neutral and negative),these patterns no longer hold in the reference corpus, British National Corpus(BNC) written component. These findings support the author's argument thatphraseological patterns can be 'very restricted-language [or text-type]specific' (p. 223).

Chapter 12, 'Collocational behaviour of different types of text', by Peter Uhrigand Katrin Götz-Votteler sets out to test three hypotheses: firstly, there is aninterrelation between the collocational behaviour of a text and its perceiveddifficulty; secondly, there is an interrelation between the collocationalbehaviour of a text and the text-type; thirdly, there is an interrelationbetween the collocational behaviour of a text and its idiomaticity. EightEnglish texts of 20,000 words each from four genres (i.e., fiction, non-fiction,EFL essays and an automatic translated novel) provided data for the study. Wordpairs from these genres were compared in terms of their Mutual Information (MI)score, which is a measure of the strength of association between two words. Dueto certain technical and methodological constraints, the results wereinconclusive and did not support the hypotheses.

Chapter 13, 'Corpus linguistics, generative grammar and database semantics', byRoland Hausser presents the theoretical framework of a natural languageprocessing system called Database Semantics (DBS). The system needs to addressmany challenges because, unlike a human language learner, the computer does nothave any existing language knowledge as a foundation to help decode unknown, newmaterial. Therefore, a natural language processing system like the DBS involvesmany components that need to be developed from scratch. These components includean automatic word form recognition process, a syntactic-semantic interpretationprocess, a storage process and a language realisation process. Each of thesecomponents is introduced in the paper.

Chapter 14, 'Chunk parsing in corpora', by Gunther Görz and GunterSchellenberger discusses the usefulness of chunk parsing in speech processingsystems and the technological/methodological challenges facing chunk parsing.Recognising the weaknesses of pure rule-based chunk parsing systems, the authorspropose the use of a method called Transformation-based learning and evaluatethe performance of such a system in theoretical terms.

Chapter 15, 'German noun+verb collocations in the sentence context:morphosyntactic properties contributing to idiomaticity', by Ulrich Heiddiscusses issues pertaining to the extraction of German noun-verb collocations.The paper begins with a description of the current approaches to the extractionof collocation candidates from text corpora. According to the author, there is aneed to distinguish collocations from non-idiomatic, fully compositional wordcombinations. Furthermore, he states that the idiomaticity of word sequences canbe judged by considering the extent of the restrictions in terms ofdetermination, modification and preference for negation or coordination, andcompatibility with NP or PP fronting. Put simply, idiomaticity and the degree offixedness are correlated. The second part of the paper demonstrates a method ofcollocation extraction. The method involves the use of Schiehlen's (2003)dependency parser on a German corpus and the subsequent extraction ofunambiguous noun-verb combinations. As the morphosyntactic features of thecombinations are extracted with the lemmas, researchers can inspect theidiomaticity of the output word sequences manually on a case-by-case basis.

EVALUATIONAs a tribute to the late John Sinclair, the book demonstrates vividly how thisgreat scholar's ideas have inspired research in a wide range of linguisticdisciplines. The studies in Sections II to IV are all extensions of Sinclair'sinsights in corpus and computational linguistics, collocations, lexicography,language teaching and patterns of spoken English. The book as a whole not onlyenhances readers' understanding of Sinclair's contributions, but it alsoprovides practical examples of the latest research inspired by Sinclair.

Among the 16 papers, many innovative ideas are put forward, e.g., a new emphasison the analysis of the collocates of a node word's collocates, the unique valueof bridge dictionaries in drawing learners' awareness to a phrase's context ofuse. Theoretical discussions aside, the book has also addressed practicalissues, such as the implementation of the lexical approach in the languagecurriculum and changes in the teaching of translation. Altogether, 'Thephraseological view of language' is a book that has achieved a difficult balancebetween the theoretical and the practical. Its comprehensive coverage of thediversity of aspects of phraseology will be welcomed by readers who share aninterest in corpus, lexis and lexicography.

REFERENCESHausmann, F. J. (2007). Apprendre le vocabulaire, cést apprendre lescollocations. In Elke Haag (ed.), F. J. Hausmann: Collocations, phraséologie,lexicographie: Études 1977-2007 et Bibliographie (pp. 49-61). Aachen: Shaker.[First published as Hausmann, F. J. (1984). Wortschatzlernen istKollokationslernen: Zum Lehren und Lernen französischer Wortverbindungen. Praxisdes neusprachlichen Unterrichts, 31, pp. 395-406.]

Schiehlen, M. (2003). A cascaded finite-state parser for German. In Proceedingsof the Research Notes Sessions of the 10th Conference of the European Chapter ofthe Association for Computational Linguistics (EACL 2003), Budapest, April 2003(pp. 133-166). Budapest: Association for Computational Linguistics.

ABOUT THE REVIEWERPhoebe M. S. Lin is Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Chinese,Translation and Linguistics, City University of Hong Kong. She holds a PhDin Applied Linguistics from the University of Nottingham, UK. Her researchfocuses on the acquisition, processing and use of formulaic language byfirst and second language learners. Her publications appear inpeer-reviewed journals and books on corpus linguistics, appliedlinguistics, vocabulary and second language acquisition. She also has aforthcoming monograph on the prosody of formulaic language in Continuum'sCorpus and Discourse series.

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