Volume 16, Issue 2-3
  • ISSN 1871-1340
  • E-ISSN: 1871-1375
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Collocations are words associated because of their frequent co-occurrence, which makes them predictable and leads to facilitated processing. While there have been suggestions that collocations are stored as unanalysed chunks, other researchers disagree. One of the arguments against holistic storage is the fact that collocations are not fixed phrases, for example, their word order can vary. To explore whether reversed collocations retain the processing advantage that they have in their canonical form, we conducted two primed lexical decision experiments: Experiment 1 in English, and Experiment 2 in Lithuanian, an understudied language. We presented both forward and backward collocations and compared them to matched control phrases. We also explored which collocational measure (phrasal frequency, MI, -score, or ΔP) worked as the best predictor of processing speed. We found a clear priming effect for both languages when collocations were presented in their forward form, which is in line with previous research. There was no priming for the backward condition in English, but a priming effect for it in Lithuanian, where the reversed word order is acceptable albeit marked. These results are not easily explained by holistic storage. As far as collocational measures are concerned, they all seem to perform reasonably well, with none of them being clearly better than the others.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): collocation processing; collocations; mental lexicon; word order
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