Essential collocations for learners of English: The role of collocational direction and weight

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This chapter points into a new direction for defining and classifying collocations, taking into account the needs of advanced learners of English. After a brief review of the common practice in representing collocations in dictionaries, the theoretical framework for the study is introduced. Most definitions are based on the claim that collocations constitute a gradable phenomenon. What is often not accounted for is the fact that their scalar characteristic lies in a set of three gradable criteria. This assumption is taken up to develop the multidimensional classification as an alternative to traditional methods. In this perspective collocations are understood as a product of two elements which can both have different positions on the lexical, the semantic and the statistical dimension. Within the core area of these dimensions, the quality of the relation between the two partners can be determined according to the role they play in the collocation, either a stronger or a weaker one. Thus collocations are not considered as uniform lexical combinations, but as directional relationships with the partners exerting different degrees of attraction, which can be used as a classifying feature for lexicography. The paper ends with a tentative proposal for an application of this notion of collocational direction and weight in learners’ dictionaries.


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