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Defining collocation for lexicographic purposes

From linguistic theory to lexicographic practice


Adriana Orlandi and Laura Giacomini

This volume aims to promote a discussion on the definition of collocation that will be useful for lexicographic purposes. Each of the papers in the volume contains addresses in detail one or more aspects of three main issues. The first issue concerns, on the one hand, the boundaries between collocations and other word combinations, and the way in which lexicographers convey classifications to dictionary users. The second issue is the possibility, or even necessity, of adapting the definition of collocation to the objectives of different types of dictionaries, taking into account their specific micro- and macro-structural properties and their users’ needs. The third issue concerns the methods for collocation extraction. In order to tailor the definition of collocation to the actual dictionary function, it is necessary to develop hybrid methods relying on corpus-based approaches and combining data processing with criteria such as native speakers’ evaluation and contrastive analysis.
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Introduction (Adriana Orlandi, Laura Giacomini)


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While initially understood as a type of cognitive restriction (Firth 1957), very much in line with Coseriu’s lexical solidarities (1967), the term collocation is now most often used as a kind of distributional restriction. This notion has had two different developments. The first is the phraseological one, that can be found in frameworks such as Meaning-Text Theory, in relation to the notion of lexical functions (Mel’cuk/Clas/Polguère 1995; Mel’cuk 2003; Mel’cuk/Polguère 2006), and in the idea of a binary relation between two lexical components, the base and the collocate, where the collocate fully realizes its meaning only when coupled with its base (see Paillard [1997], Hausmann [1998], Grossmann/Tutin [2002, 2003]). The second approach, originated in the works of the late John Sinclair in Great Britain, is strongly grounded in statistics and corpus analysis. The emphasis here is on the frequency of co-occurrences of word pairs, and on the distribution of meanings and lexical uses of words. The former approach led to extensive researches in lexicology (Cruse, 1988) and lexicography (Hausmann 1989, Mel’čuk 1998). The latter (Sinclair 1991, Evert 2008) underlies research in corpus linguistics.

In this volume, we take a lexicographic perspective. The aim of this volume is to promote a discussion on the definition of collocations that can be useful to lexicographic purposes. Problems with the definition of collocations are related, first, to the boundaries between collocations and free combinations, and, second,...

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