Meaning by collocation: The Firthian filiation of corpus linguistics

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In my paper, I would like to address the issue of collocation works, starting from Firth’s view on meaning by collocation, in order to see how it has been worked out in Corpus Linguistics. Meaning by collocation, first conceived by Firth as lexical meaning, concerned, later in his work, not only words but phrases, compounds, turns of phrases, and even inferior units such as morphemes. It can be said that Firth restricted collocations to words when he put forward methodological indications in order to achieve practical aims, such as dictionaries and translation. Firth then specified that the collocations of selected ‘key’ or ‘pivotal’ words should be searched for in whole attested texts. Among his followers, Halliday and Sinclair set up the theoretical and methodological conditions of studying Firth’s meaning by collocation systematically in the 1960s. Collocation has since become one of the main issues of Corpus Linguistics; however, many questions raised by computerbased collocation research have still remained unsolved.


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