Dialnet-TheCaseForVerbadjectiveCollocations-4779380 | Lexical Semantics

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Adjective collocations
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  volumen 6 año 2011 Revista de Lingüística y Lenguas Aplicadas |   39 THE CASE FOR VERB󰀭ADJECTIVE COLLOCATIONS: CORPUS󰀭BASED ANALYSIS AND LEXICOGRAPHICAL TREATMENT 1  Abstract: This article explores a type of co-occurrence pattern which cannot be adequately described by existing models of collocation, and for which combinatory dictionaries have yet failed to provide sufficient  information. The phenomenon of “oblique inter-collocation”, as I propose to call it, is characterised by a concatenation of syntagmatic preferences which partially contravenes the habitual grammatical order of  semantic selection. In particular, I will examine some of the effects which the verb cause exerts on the distribution of attributive adjectives in the context of specific noun classes. The procedure for detecting and describing patterns of oblique inter-collocation is illustrated by means of SketchEngine corpus query tools. Based on the data extracted from a large-scale corpus, this paper carries out a critical analysis of the micro- structure in Oxford Collocations Dictionary.  Key words:  Collocation, inter-collocation, lexical constellations, combinatory lexicography. 1. INTRODUCTION Despite the ambiguity with which the term collocation  has been used in the literature, 2 it is possible to point out a number of features which many approaches consider to be characteristic of this phenomenon. Apart from their syntagmatic stability and semantic transparency, the fea-tures commonly attributed to collocation include a binary composition and a specific syntactic arrangement. On this view, lexical collocations always consist of two conceptual elements of a certain syntactic type (Martin, 2008: 56). With the exception of British Contextualism (neo-Fir-thian linguistics), most traditions of collocational research are generally agreed on these terms.The two features mentioned above are reflected in the design of grammatical typologies of collocation (Hausmann, 1998; Corpas Pastor, 1996, 1998). In most classifications the syntactic realisations of lexical collocations 3  are reduced to five basic types: verb + noun (e.g.  reach an  agreement   ), adverb + verb (  drink greedily   ), adjective + noun 4  (   heavy smoker   ), adverb + adjective (   blissfully happy   ), and quantifier + of   + noun (  flock of birds  ). All five types have a fundamental characteristic in common, to wit: they involve the combination of a predicative lexeme with one of its arguments (Bosque, 2001, 2004). 1 This paper is based on research generously funded by a grant from Fundación Séneca, Agencia de Ciencia y Tecnología de la Región de Murcia  (Ref. 08594/ PHCS/08). 2 For an overview of different definitions and uses of the concept of collocation, the reader is referred to the following authors: Corpas Pastor (2001), Almela (2006: 118ff). 3  The reason why I insist on adding the attribute  lexical   here is that some lexicographical works have applied the term collocation  both to lexi-cal and to grammatical patterns. For instance, in The BBI Dictionary of English Word Combinations,  a grammatical collocation consists of combinations of lexical items and grammatical tags or function words (e.g.  adjective + to -infinitive,  noun + preposition  ). The phenomenon of grammatical collocation does not lie within the remit of this article. 4  In some languages like English, it is possible to recognise combinations of two nouns (e.g. data source  ) as a variant of this category of colloca-tion. Hence, the third syntactic type can be represented as  modifier + noun , rather than  adjective + noun . That is, the morphological realisation of the modifier can be left unspecified. Moisés Almela Universidad de Murcia  http://dx.doi.org/10.4995/rlyla.2011.892  40   |  Revista de Lingüística y Lenguas Aplicadas In some traditions, there are specific terms for each of the two components of a collocation. Hausmann (1979) coined the terms  base  and collocator  , which denote respectively the argument and the predicate. The same terminology has been gradually adopted by the proponents of Explanatory and Combinatory Lexicology (ECL), the lexical component of Meaning-Text Theory. Originally, the terms employed in ECL were  key-word   and value . However, as Mel’ č uk et al. (1995: 126) conceded, the key-word/value distinction is comparable to that between base and collocator, and with time, this second pair of terms (base/collocator) has become usual in the ECL literature.In this article, I will undertake a critical revision of the conventional syntactic typology of co-llocation. The goal is to determine whether the received models should be refined or extended to include co-occurrence patterns which share essential characteristics with collocations, but which do not fit well into the established syntactic types.The paper is formally structured as follows. First, in the next section, I will briefly describe the reasons which in previous research have motivated the reduction of collocation to predicate-ar-gument structure. Then, in section 3, I will analyse in-depth the characteristics of a complex pat-tern (  caused by + adjective + noun) and evaluate the way it is accounted for in the most recent collocation dictionary of English, namely, the Oxford Collocations Dictionary (henceforth: OCD).  A comparison with other combinatory dictionaries has not been included due to limitations of space. Finally, the conclusions from this research are summarised in section 4. 2. COLLOCATION AND SEMANTIC SELECTION The main evidence advanced in support of a restricted syntactic typology of collocations is the directionality   of semantic selection. In general linguistics, it is a well-known fact that distribu-tional classes of arguments are semantically more homogeneous than distributional classes of predicates. As a rule, it is easier to predict the semantic class of an argument given a predicate than it is to predict the semantic class of a predicate given one of its arguments. This is generally interpreted as an indication that the semantic class of an argument is restricted by the predicate, but not vice versa (Bosque, 2001, 2004; Cruse, 2004: 223). To put it another way: predicates function as selectors, and arguments as selectees.The correlation of syntactic structure and semantic selection provides us with a useful fra-mework for an efficient description of collocation, because it allows us to generate multiple co-llocational expressions from a single combination rule. For example, the expressions sit  an exam,  sit a final, sit a practical, sit an A level  , etc., can be derived from a common pattern of semantic valency. The verb sit, when used transitively, exhibits a preference for object nouns which denote the ‘process of finding out how much someone knows’ (the rule is, of course, probabilistic rather than deterministic, as is the case of all rules concerning the collocational behaviour of words).By contrast, no rule can be formulated to predict with relative accuracy the semantic class of verbs that collocate with  exam . Verbal expressions such as  prepare for, sit, pass, fail, administer,  mark  , or set, among others, cannot be subsumed under a general semantic heading, apart from the reference to exam itself. They form a distributional class, but not a semantic class. This illus-trates a general fact. The collocators of a base must be described individually, while the bases of a collocator can be described systematically (Bosque, 2001, 2004). This is the principle which informs the structure of REDES, the first major dictionary of Spanish word combinations.Some authors have made the case for a distinction between  semantic  selection and lexical selection arguing that they have opposite types of directionality (Alonso Ramos, 2007; Barrios,  volumen 6 año 2011 Revista de Lingüística y Lenguas Aplicadas |   41 2009, 2010). The notion of  lexical selection, as opposed to semantic selection, is based on the observation that collocators (predicates) with potentially equivalent meanings have a different syntagmatic distribution, because they are attracted to the contexts of different collocational bases (arguments). For instance, commence  and  break   out collocate with proceedings and war, respectively, but *proceedings break out   and *war commences are lexically   odd expressions. Ne-vertheless, it should be pointed out that the distinction between lexical selection and semantic selection is controversial–for an appraisal, cf. Bosque (2001, 2004) and Apresjan (2009).For the sake of focus, I will not engage here in the debate about the relationship of lexical selection and semantic selection. I will limit my discussion to the topic of semantic selection, with a special emphasis on what it implies for the design of syntactic typologies of collocation. In particular, the problem I address in this section is the observation that semantic selection can operate in grammatical contexts which do not represent typical instances of predicate-argument structure. A case in point is the collocation of the verb cause with adjectives expressing a negative evaluation, e.g. faulty, defective, abnormal, deficient, improper, etc. Table 1 contains a list with the most significant adjectival collocates found in a +1 window with respect to the expression caused by. The statistical analysis is based on data from a large English web-derived corpus, named ukWaC v1.0 old (size: 1,526,599,198 words). The corpus is accessible through SketchEn-gine query system. The measure of lexical association I have applied is logDice. The collocates are arranged in order of statistical significance (from top to bottom, first, and then from left to right), and the scores are given in brackets. For a description of the formula and an explanation of the advantages over other association measures, the reader is referred to Rychlý (2008). faulty (7.608)prolonged (5.855)heavy (5.104)excessive (7.550)accidental (5.791)secondhand (5.097)defective (6.507)poor (5.655)inaccurate (5.095) inadequate (6.497)viral (5.628)chronic (5.066) incorrect (6.391)bacterial (5.617)airborne (5.022) abnormal (6.266)passive (5.567)contaminated (4.984) improper (6.244)anti-personnel (5.370)repetitive (4.978) insufficient (6.183)parasitic (5.289)man-made (4.918) inappropriate (6.034)infectious (5.153)toxic (4.881)careless (5.961)torrential (5.118)protozoan (4.879) Table 1. Top adjectival collocates of caused by (+1). The data shown in Table 1 point to a close conceptual similarity among adjectives which occur in agentive  by  -phrases after the verb cause . The most significant adjectives found in this context form a broad semantic class characterised by negative connotations. More precisely, it is possible to discern two subclasses: first, adjectives of disapproval, that is to say, adjectives which convey a negative evaluation of the (extra-linguistic) referent denoted by the noun they modify (e.g. faulty, excessive, defective, inadequate, incorrect, improper, inappropriate , etc.); and second, adjectives which describe specific properties of nouns relating to unfavourable situa-tions or events (for instance, viral, bacterial, parasitic , and  infectious  allude to diseases).This information is consistent with findings from previous corpus-based research suggesting that cause  is associated with lexical contexts which denote unfavourable situations or events  42   |  Revista de Lingüística y Lenguas Aplicadas (Stubbs, 1995). To use the habitual terminology in corpus linguistics, we can say that cause  has a  negative semantic prosody  . What I find interesting to underline in this section is the variety of grammatical combinations in which the negative prosody of cause  is manifested. This prosody is expressed in the combination of cause  not only with nouns (e.g.  stress, accident, earthquake, defect, etc.) but also with other word classes, for instance with the adjectives in Table 1. This can be problematic for mainstream models of collocation, because the combination of a transitive verb and an attributive adjective does not represent a typical example of predicate-argument structure.Finally, it is essential to remember that, in analysing verb-adjective collocations, factors such as the subcategorisation of the verb and its complementation pattern play a decisive role. Lu-zón and Campoy (2000) carried out an interesting research into the collocations of adjectives with  linking verbs of transition  (e.g.  go berserk  ,  become clear, come true  ). Adjective phrases are characteristic arguments of link verbs, and in this sense, the collocational patterns described by Luzón and Campoy (2000) are not at variance with the established syntactic typologies of collocation. However, the same does not hold for the kind of verb-adjective collocations I have described in this section (e.g. caused by faulty + NN, caused by defective + NN, etc.). Here, the adjective is in attributive rather than in predicative position, and the verb   (  cause  )   is not a copula. Admittedly, the agentive  by  -phrases in which these adjectives occur contain a noun phrase which represents an argument of the cause . Owing to the diathesis of the verb, the collocations found in this context are equivalent to those found in the subject slot. Examples (1) and (2) below are different morphosyntactic realisations of the same deep argument structure. However, since the adjective is not the head constituent of any of these argument phrases, the syntactic form of these collocations must be dealt with as a special case.(1). ..that a disease is caused by a faulty gene... (2). ..have now identified the faulty gene which causes the disease... One way of dealing with this complexity is to explore the interactions of different collocations. This requires us to take a step from an intra-collocational to an inter-collocational perspective–that is, from the analysis of dependency relations between different components of a collocation to the analysis of dependency relations between different collocations. The proposal is develo-ped in the next section. 3. FROM COLLOCATION TO INTER-COLLOCATION  As I have anticipated in the previous section, the base of a collocation does not necessarily coincide with the head of the syntactic constituent which instantiates the argument. Therefore, one of the difficulties with which the conventional syntactic typologies of collocation must be faced up is the mismatch between the binary structure of collocation and the complexity of the possible morphosyntactic realisations of an argument slot. Let me illustrate the problem by re-ferring to the following examples (concordances extracted from the corpus ukWaC v1.0 old  , at SketchEngine).(3a) …the law of compensation for psychiatric injury caused by occupational stress (3b). ..if they are caused by a mental disorder.
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