5. A very complex criterion of fixedness: Non-compositionality

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The terminology used in definitions of different types of fixed expressions (such as idioms, locutions, proverbs etc.) is complex and sometimes ambiguous.Within the field of phraseology, it is therefore subject to discussion. This chapter deals with the complexity of the notion of non-compositionality.Non-compositionality is a criterion that often appears in definitions of fixed expressions. It will be shown that there are four dichotomies of particular interest within the very notion of non-compositionality. These dichotomies are:motivation/non-motivation, transparency/ opacity, analysability/unanalysability and literal/figurative meaning. Other notions of relevance to non-compositionality, such as common meaning, prototypicality, salience and frequency as well as encyclopaedic compositionality will also be described and problematised. Finally, the notions of partial compositionality, holistic or atomistic compositionality, and lexical content or grammatical form, all describing different aspects of compositionality, will be evoked, to further demonstrate the complexity of this criterion of fixedness.


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