Chapter 9: Semantic Principles
Chapter 9 Semantic Principles Key terms • Collocation • Compositionality • Idiom principle • Idioms • Lexical features • Open choice principle • Phrasal verbs • Phraseological features • Phraseological tendency • Slot-and-filler principle • Terminological tendency Semantically speaking, in order to produce utterances or understand them, language users (be they speakers or writers) rely on two features, namely lexical features and phraseological features (cf. Francis 1993; Sinclair 1991, 1998). These two types of features cover both compositional meaning and unitary meaning. This chapter explores two aspects of word use and word meaning in terms of Sinclair’s (1991, 1998) distinction between the “open choice principle” (or “terminological tendency”) and the “idiom principle” (or “phraseological tendency”). 136 Chapter 9 9.1 Semantic principles As suggested above, in order to produce or understand utterances, language users rely on both lexical and phraseological features. To do so, they con- sciously or subconsciously follow two principles, namely the open choice principle (or terminological tendency) and the idiom principle (or phra- seological tendency). At times, the lexical items have both a terminological tendency and a phraseological tendency, as in literal phrasal verbs, such as sit down, stand up, come in, put down, pick up, and so on. In this type of phrasal verbs, in which a verb is followed by a directional particle, it is not difficult to figure out their meanings because both terminological tendency and phraseological tendency are in harmony. However, at other times, there is some sort of tension between these two tendencies, as in, for example aspectual phrasal verbs, such as take off,...
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