1 Collocation and Phrase Patterns

1.1 Definitions of collocation


E J. R. Firth ( British linguist )

@  an abstraction at the syntagmatic level=gyou shall judge a word by the company it keepsh 

     e.g.) night¨@dark night, night night 


E Sinclair ( a student of Firth )

the occurrence of two or more words within a short space of each other in a text




  E Leech gSeven Types of Meaningh(1974)

    collocative meaning₯₯₯consists of the associations a word acquires on account of the meanings of words which tend to occur in its environment



                      part of a native speakerfs communicative competence@


E    Hoey (1991)

The name given to the relationship a lexical item has with items that appear with greater than random probability in its context


@@@@@@@@@@   gstatisticalhdefinition


Collocation is usually used to refer to the co-occurrence of two single words

J. R. Firth₯₯₯all grammatical levels including patterns such as assonance and alliteration taken from poetry


@@@@@@@             gCombinatoricsh


1.2 @Collocation, text type and style

The language as a whole  VS  the individualfs psychological knowledge of what constitutes normal collocation

Collocational normality is dependent genre, register and style



Eliterature and language₯₯₯ the usual collocations of a literary form or genre or of a particular author


 (saved, spent, wasted ) time © common

       ( half, full, extra ) time © sports journalism

       vigorous depressions, dull highlights©meteorology and photography   



    Enormal collocations and normal grammar

@@Eunusual collocations and normal grammar

@@Enormal collocations and unusual grammar

@@Eunusual collocations and unusual grammar 


  Carter(1987)₯₯₯producing language at the two extremes of the scale is risky.

                Between the two extremes is a dimension in which more individual and creative effects can be produced.


1.3  Collocation and communicative competence

The knowledge of normal collocations is part of a native speakerfs communicative competence.

  Communicative competence by Hymes(1971)

The knowledge of 1) what is formally possible  ¨ Chomskian competence

                 2) what is feasible                

                 3) what is appropriate       context-related, refining process

                 4) what is actually performed    @@@


@@@@@@@@@@knowledge of what is normal collocation is important


  No total agreement as to which collocations are acceptable

  Carter(1987) gQuestions of acceptability are much more difficult to determine than the decision over what is grammatical or ungrammatical. hsuggesting by using gtechniques of informant analysis and a line drawn between what can generally be allowed and what can noth


1.4  The gidiom horgcollocationalh principle

Collocation₯₯₯two main organizing features of text © a number of authors

             open choice principle © Sinclair(1987)

ga series of slots which have to be filled from a lexiconh the only restraints being grammatical , further constraints are gidiomhgcollacational principlehSinclair(1987)


Q) Why do language users need to store both the single vocabulary items and a lexicon of preconstructed phrases?

E    The effort saved by making far fewer slot filling choices in real-time easily outweighs

the disadvantages of unwieldy storage.@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

    EWe store a large number of complex items we manipulate with comparatively simple operations ₯₯₯Ladefoged (1972)

@@Estorage capacity is vast but that the speed for processing those memories is not so that we must learn shortcut₯₯₯Nattinger &DeCarrico(1992)


Idiom-collocation principle is to save processing time and effort.


typical of conversation and also being applied for writing

       for writing   1)signal the register    

                    2)cut down processing time


Discourses are created by a combination of the idiom and open choice principles.  But it is hard which is operating most strongly.

gthings for lexical units larger than wordshgidiomh©Bolinger


1.5  Collocation and linguistic schema ( or schemata )

Elexicalized sentence stems₯₯₯Pawley&Syder(1983)   explain the existence and functions

Elinguistic schema₯₯₯Barlow & Kemmer(1994)   in language of semi-constructed phrases


Ea lexicalized sentence stems

Consisting of a sentence or part of a sentence in which one or more of the structural elements is a class rather than a particular discrete item

e.g.) Ifm sorry to keep you waiting.

    Ifm sorry to have kept you waiting.

    Mr. X is sorry to keep you waiting all this time.


NP be-TENSE sorry to keep- TENSE you waiting.  ©@sentence stem 




@form components of a gform-meaning pairinghwhich shares some of the qualities of a fixed phrase but which also contains variable parts capable of capturing context dependent information

Barlow (1996)

e.g.) let oneself go ¨variables  Elet       ¨glet + reflexive + goh= schema



 gschemash₯₯₯ghigh-level complex knowledge structureshwhich function asg ideational scaffoldinghborrowed from psychology and artificial intelligence


  a linguistic schema₯₯₯being constructed by the brain being exposed to many instances of a particular language structure


1.6  Routines and patterns in language acquisition studies

Psycholinguistic explanation¨throw light on the role preconstructed phrases play in language acquisition


 Krashen & Scarcella(1978)


 Eroutines                                      preconstructed or semi-preconstructed  

 Efixed chunks e.g.) How do you do?                   phrases

 Epatterns  e.g.) How much did     cost?               


@These presence results from the pressure , generally exerted by teacher on pupil to communicate at too early a stage


Ellis (1985)¨the parallels with schema theory

 Pattern memorization₯₯₯gwhereby the learner attends to the inputh 

 Pattern imitation₯₯₯ginvolving the deliberate and methodical copying of whole utterances

 used in the speech of an interlocutorh


Bolinger (1976)¨analogies from morphology

 Pattern analysis₯₯₯glearning goes on constantly in segments of collocation size as much as it does in segments of  word sizeh






Peters (1983)¨collocational principles are responsible for language acquisition

Eggestalt approachh₯₯₯Childrenfs attempting to use whole prefabricated utterances@in socially appropriate contexts

 Eganalytic one-word-at –a –time approachh₯₯₯Childrenfs constructing sentences from gscratchh 


Memorization of the form of a phrase+ memorization of its associated functions

Bolinger (1976)

  badly hurt  ¨physical hurt

  terribly hurt, cruelly hurt¨moral or emotional hurt


@@The picture is more complicate.  Each combination of intensifier with hurt has one connotation or the other.

  badly hurt  ¨physical hurt

  deeply hurt, really hurt, terribly hurt¨moral or emotional hurt

  seriously hurt, severely hurt¨physical hurt


@No general rules, each combination has its own connotation.


1.7  Types of collocations

Collocational phrases

Efixed@@ e.g.) of course, proverbs and sayings, quotations

@@  Evariable  ginternal lexical variationh(Sinclair)   e.g.) vested interest     


Carter (1987) proposes many clines in the criteria in determining how fixed or free lexical patterns are

Esyntactic structure or word order

@@@The more irregular a phrasefs syntax, the more likely it is to be a fixed one.@@@

Ecollocational restriction₯₯₯phrases

    gmost restrictedh e.g.) stinking rich, blithering idiot

gsemi-restrictedh e.g.) harbor + doubts, uncertainty, a grudge, suspicion

gunrestrictedh    e.g.) fat, bright, head

@@@    «

Every lexical item enters into particular collocational relations with the lexis of a language.


1.8 Conclusion

EEvery lexical item in the language has its own individual and unique pattern of behavior.