Verb Collocations in Dictionaries and Corpus: an Integrated Approach for Translation Purposes

by Míriam Buendía-Castro (Author)
©2021 Monographs 232 Pages


Collocations are especially needed for translators, especially in the final phase of production of the target language text. This book proposes an integrated methodology, based on the information extracted from dictionaries and corpus, to encode and describe verb collocations in specialized resources. The focus is on verbs since few terminological resources include verb information when they are regarded as the most important lexical and syntactic category in language. The underlying idea of this research is that verbs and their arguments can be classified in a set of semantic categories typical of a given domain; then, when semantic roles and macroroles are specified, it is possible to establish templates that represent the entire lexical subdomain, and to predict the range of verbs.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Frame-based Terminology
  • 2.1 The Lexical Grammar Model
  • 2.1.1 The concept of lexical domain
  • 2.1.2 The paradigmatic axis
  • 2.1.3 The syntagmatic axis
  • 2.1.4 The cognitive axis
  • 2.2 Its practical application: EcoLexicon
  • 3 Collocations in lexicography and terminography
  • 3.1 Collocations: definition and access
  • 3.2 Approaches to the study of collocations
  • 3.1.1 Semantically-based approach
  • 3.1.2. Frequency-oriented approach
  • 3.3 Collocations in lexicographic resources
  • 3.4 Collocations in terminographic resources
  • 3.5 Guidelines for encoding collocations in lexicographic and terminographic resources
  • 4 Collocations in corpus
  • 4.1 The concept of corpus
  • 4.2 Types of corpus
  • 4.3 Methods and criteria for corpus compilation
  • 4.3.1 The Web for Corpus approach
  • Protocol for the evaluation of online resources
  • Authority
  • Content
  • Design
  • Summary
  • 4.3.2 The Web as Corpus approach
  • 4.4 Characteristics of the corpus
  • 4.5 Corpus analysis tools
  • 4.5.1 TermoStat
  • 4.5.2 Sketch Engine
  • 4.5.3 WordSmith Tools
  • 5 An integrated top-down and bottom-up approach: the case of EcoLexicon
  • 5.1 Object of study: the extreme event
  • 5.2 Conceptual organization of the extreme event
  • 5.3 Extraction of the candidate verbs
  • 5.4 Verb analysis
  • 5.4.1 Top-down analysis
  • 5.4.2 Bottom-up analysis
  • Argument analysis
  • Semantic roles and macroroles
  • 5.4.3 Distinguishing verb senses and establishing correspondences
  • 5.5 Verb templates
  • 5.6 Implementation of verb collocations in EcoLexicon
  • 5.6.1 Macrostructure of EcoLexicon
  • 5.6.2 Microstructure of entries
  • 6 Conclusions
  • References
  • Appendix 1 Definitions of English and Spanish verbs classified in lexical domains
  • Series index

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1 Introduction

It seems that about 80 % of the words in discourse are chosen according to the co-selection principle rather than for purely syntactic or grammatical reasons (Sinclair, 2000, p. 197). Thus, the analysis of how words co-select or combine with other words is a necessary focus of study for any linguist and, more specifically, for any translator wishing to create a text that is as natural and linguistically correct as possible. The combination of words is indeed the object of study of phraseology. In the words of Benson, Benson and Ilson (2010, p. vii):

To use language, you must be able to combine words with other words to form phrases and to combine words into grammatical patterns to form clauses and sentences. Traditionally, the combination of words with words has been called collocation and its result has been called phraseology.

Bally ([1909] 1951) in his work Traité de stilistique française can be regarded as the father of phraseology in that he was the first to distinguish between locutions phraséologiques [phraseological units in the broadest sense] and unités phraséologiques [idioms in the strictest sense].

Palmer and Hornby were the first linguists to approach phraseology from a pedagogical perspective. Palmer, as a teacher of English in Japan in the 1930s, set up a research project to collect and classify a wide range of multiword units, which he called comings together-of-words or collocations (Palmer, 1933, p. 13, as quoted in Cowie, 1998, p. 211):

It is not so much the words of English or the grammar of English that makes English difficult, but that vague and undefined obstacle to progress in the learning of English consists for the most part of the existence of so many odd comings-together-of-words.

Palmer’s theoretical views appear in his introduction to the Second Interim Report on English Collocations (1933). He defined collocation as a “[…] a succession of two or more words that must be learned as an integral whole, and not pieced together from its component parts” (Palmer, 1933, p. 5). He differentiates collocations as a general category from what he referred to as free phrases or free combinations which combine by common rules of grammar (Palmer, 1993, p. 5). Palmer and Hornby used the term ←7 | 8→collocation for the whole spectrum of word combinations. Since Palmer did not recognize a gradation of idiomaticity, he did not differentiate between the more and less idiomatic cases with the subsequent limitations of this assertion (Cowie, 1998, p. 211).

Although very few authors would now apply the term collocation to the whole range of multiword units, Palmer and Hornby’s approach greatly influenced the treatment of multiword units in learners’ dictionaries of the 1930s and 1940s (Cowie, 1990), and their work provided the basis for the treatment of collocations by future generations of phraseologists.

Phraseology, however, was formally established as a discipline by the Russian Vinogradov (1947). As pointed out by Cowie (1998, p. 2):

Classical Russian theory, with its later extensions and modifications, is probable the most pervasive influence at work in current phraseological studies and is unrivalled in its application to the design and compilation of dictionaries.

Since the late 1960s, the flow of ideas in phraseology has been almost entirely from East to West (Cowie, 1998, p. 209). In Spain, interest in phraseology arose somewhat later in the 1980s, thanks to Zuluaga (1980). However, in recent decades, the scientific production in phraseology has increased dramatically. In 1981, the first international meeting on phraseology took place in Mannheim (Germany), organized by German and Slovenian phraseologists. In 1999, the European Society of Phraseology (EUROPHRASS1) was created in Zurich (Switzerland) to promote scientific exchange and international cooperation within the field of phraseology.

Generally speaking, phraseology is the discipline that studies phrases, “where ‘phrases’ means any multi-word expression up to sentence level” (Pawley, 2001, p. 122). There have been many attempts to categorize ‘phrase’ (e.g. terminological phrase, LSP phrase, phraseme, phraseological unit, phraseological term) (Thomas, 1993, p. 57). Wray (2000, p. 465) gives a summary of the terms used in the literature to describe and define phraseological language (Tab. 1). Instead of phraseological language, Wray (2000, p. 465) uses formulaic language and proposes formulaic sequence as a term for phraseological units, defined as follows:

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A sequence, continuous or discontinuous, of words or other meaning elements, which is, or appears to be, prefabricated: that is, stored and retrieved whole from memory at the time of use, rather than being subject to generation or analysis by the language grammar.

Tab. 1: Set of terms for phraseological language



preassembled speech

prefabricated routines and patterns



ready-made expressions



ready-made utterances



recurring utterances

co-ordinate constructions





routine formulae




conventionalized forms

lexical(ized) phrases

semi-preconstructed phrases that constitute single choices

F[ixed] E[xpressions] including I[dioms]

lexicalized sentence stems

sentence builders

fixed expressions

multiword units

stable and familiar expressions with specialized subsenses

formulaic language


stereotyped phrases

formulaic speech


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2020 (November)
phraseology phraseological units specialized resource Frame-based Terminology translator needs
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2021. 232 pp., 20 fig. b/w, 40 tables.

Biographical notes

Míriam Buendía-Castro (Author)

Míriam Buendía-Castro is a lecturer in the Department of Translation and Interpreting at the University of Granada. Her PhD (2013) was awarded the Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award by the University of Granada. Her main research interests are in terminology, phraseology, and corpus linguistics. She has co-authored one book, and published more than 40 book chapters and papers.


Title: Verb Collocations in Dictionaries and Corpus: an Integrated Approach for Translation Purposes
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234 pages