From linguistic theory to lexicographic practice
Edited By Adriana Orlandi and Laura Giacomini
For a typology of phraseological expressions: how to tell an idiom from a collocation? (Béatrice Lamiroy)
Béatrice Lamiroy For a typology of phraseological expressions: how to tell an idiom from a collocation? Abstract: This article is devoted to French phraseology. Although phraseology has been researched for several decades now, to our knowledge no comprehensive typology of phraseological expressions has been proposed so far. We argue here that four phrase- ological types should be distinguished, both by theoretical linguists and by lexicog- raphers: collocations (e.g. prendre la parole ‘take the floor’), idioms (e.g. prendre la mouche, lit. take the fly ‘to get furious’), conversational routines (e.g. à qui le distu ! lit. to whom do you say this! ‘formula to confirm and reinforce what the speaker has said’) and proverbs (e.g. un tiens vaut mieux que deux tu l’auras ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’). All types share the property of being “fixed” combinations of words, i.e. multi-word units which are part of the lexical competence of a native speaker but have to be learned by heart by foreign language learners. However, each type also has properties of its own that make it distinct from any other type. We zoom in here on two types only, collocations and idioms. Collocations are binary units which usually consist of a base and a collocative and which are due to the recurrent co-occurrence of par- ticular words. Their meaning more often than not is compositional. Idioms instead are multi-word expressions which are the result of a diachronic process in which the word combination became progressively...
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