Unusual phrases in English MLDs: increasing user friendliness

By November 17, 2016,
Page 839-853
Author Stephen Coffey
Title Unusual phrases in English MLDs: increasing user friendliness
Abstract This paper investigates the presentation of compositionally anomalous phrases in English monolingual learners’ dictionaries (MLDs). In particular, it argues that it would be pedagogically useful to explain to the dictionary user, where possible, the reason why certain types of anomaly exist. Two types of phrase are discussed: firstly, idiomatic expressions in which the relationship between phrasal meaning and original meaning may not be clear to the learner (e.g. run the gauntlet); secondly, phrases which include particularly unusual word forms or word senses. These include lexical fossils (as in the whys and WHEREFORES) and phrases partially motivated by phonological characteristics (as in bits and BOBS). In order to form an impression of how anomalous phrases are currently treated in MLDs, samples of items were looked for in both print and online editions. It was found that, overall, little attention is paid to the motivation of phrasal composition, and it is suggested that more should be done in this direction. This would involve integrating current description, almost entirely synchronic in nature, with historical data, at least in the case of some types of phrasal unit.
Session Phraseology and Collocation
Keywords phraseology; learners’ dictionaries; idiomatic expressions; lexical fossils; alliteration; rhyme; etymology
author={Stephen Coffey},
title={Unusual phrases in English MLDs: increasing user friendliness},
booktitle={Proceedings of the 16th EURALEX International Congress},
address={Bolzano, Italy},
editor={Abel, Andrea and Vettori, Chiara and Ralli, Natascia},
publisher={EURAC research},