18. Automatic extraction of translation equivalents of phrasal and light verbs in English and Russian

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This chapter aims at bridging the functionalist theoretical perspective on word usage with corpus-based studies. We are dealing with the issue of construction of reliable lists of what is called ‘phraseological units’ in general linguistics literature or ‘multi-word expressions’ (MWEs) in literature on computational linguistics. The two groups of constructions under investigation in this chapter are phrasal verbs and light verb constructions. Another distinguishing feature of this study is its multilingual aspect. Previous computational approaches to MWEs have mainly focussed on English, and there has been little research on computational approaches to MWEs in other languages. In this chapter, we examine phrasal verbs in English and their translation equivalents in Russian, and compare English-Russian/Russian-English translation equivalents of selected light verb constructions in two case studies. Our study reveals some interesting cross-language structural divergences between the languages under consideration and shows that a phraseological expression in a language may have equivalent expressions in other languages with different morpho-syntactic structures and semantic properties. However, our investigation not only reveals marked differences between English and Russian, but also discovers some general corresponding structural patterns between them; for example, English phrasal verbs usually have single-word translation equivalents in Russian. Moreover, our study of phrasal and light verbs demonstrates that corpus-based resources can provide an invaluable help to a practising translator, as dictionaries do not cover a large variety of real-life language examples.


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