10. The Good Lord and his works: A corpus-driven study of collocational resonance

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The idiom principle outlined by John Sinclair has shown how much language consists of reused formulae of a collocational and colligational nature. Resonance seeks to look at the usage of words and expressions that have retained strong semantic prosodies from earlier usage, prosodies of which the current user may not necessarily be aware. It appears here as a very diffuse form of intertextuality with an initial move from contextual to restricted collocation followed by a gradual move to the purely formulaic. This chapter illustrates this by exploring certain key words from the New Testament to see how they have been used in the works of Shakespeare, the other most cited source in the English language, and finally how these expressions are used in the British National Corpus. Although having become almost purely formulaic, these expressions seem to retain sufficient religious resonance to give them their force.


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