2. Disentangling the phraseological web

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Although phraseology has recently begun to establish itself as a field in its own right, this process is being hindered by two main factors: the highly variable and wide-ranging scope of the field and the vast and confusing terminology associated with it. This chapter tackles these two issues successively in an attempt to disentangle the ‘phraseological web’. We first draw up a clear distinction between two major approaches to the study of multi-word units, i.e. the phraseological approach and the distributional or frequency-based approach, which have set quite different boundaries to the field. We then argue that the variations in scope that characterize the field of phraseology are a direct result of its fuzzy borders with four neighbouring disciplines: semantics, morphology, syntax and discourse.We describe some of the most influential typologies of word combinations within the phraseological approach and present a categorization of multi-word units emerging from the distributional approach. We conclude with suggestions regarding both the scope of the field and the terminology used.


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