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Rate of change in phraseological expressions

Buerki, Andreas 2018. Rate of change in phraseological expressions. Presented at: EUROPHRAS 2018, Białystok, Poland, 10-12 September 2018.

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Abstract

Phraseological expressions, here defined as common turns of phrase used by members of a speech community, are ubiquitous in language and play an important role in language processing, successful communication and general language proficiency. The present paper assesses the rate of diachronic change among phraseological expressions (PEs) over a century. There have been a good number of diachronic studies of PEs, set phrases, constructions and the like, but so far little work has appeared which seeks to quantify diachronic change at a more general level, beyond the investigation of individual expressions or small groups thereof. In the present study, corpus data from German are investigated. The corpus material, which covers the period from 1900 to 2000 was divided into segments of equal time periods and PEs were extracted for each segment. Change was operationalized in terms of the percentage of shared PEs between different time segments such that a high percentage of shared PEs indicated a more modest extent of change between periods, and a low percentage accordingly indicated greater change. Results from this measure were first compared to the extent of synchronic variation in PEs across different sets of contemporary texts to establish a baseline. Then synchronic variation across four genre groups and the extent of diachronic change among single lexical items was measured and compared. Results indicate that the extent of PE-change in our data over the 20th century was comparable to variation found on average between contemporary texts of different genres. In addition, the rate of change in PEs is shown to be higher than the rate of lexical change, even though lexical change is typically thought to be the fastest type of linguistic change.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PB Modern European Languages
P Language and Literature > PD Germanic languages
Last Modified: 22 May 2019 15:10
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/118420

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