A corpus study of lexicalized formulaic sequences with preposition + <i>hand</i>

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In this study all n-grams including the lemma hand were automatically retrieved from the British National Corpus and then formulaic sequences were manually distinguished. A special focus was given to <i>at hand, in hand, on hand and to hand</i> which occurred with reference to humans, animals, concrete inanimate items and abstract items. The abstract meanings were metonymic and metaphorical mappings of literal body part meanings onto more abstract meanings. The data indicate that these sequences are the result of a lexicalization process in which they are developing towards univerbation. They seem to be processed holistically without regard to the meaning of the preposition, which is supported by the fact that they are now occurring written solidly in informal registers.


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