Words & Constructions: Language complexity in linguistics and psychology
  • ISSN 1871-1340
  • E-ISSN: 1871-1375
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This paper sketches a continuum between lexicon and syntax, with concrete examples from two typologically different languages, Finnish and English. While Finnish is a morphologically rich and relatively transparent synthetic language, full of inflectional and derivational morphology and compounding, English is clearly more analytical making use of particles, prepositions, and other free grammatical morphemes. The contrastive idiom analyses of these two languages offer us a glimpse into the multiplicity involved in idiomaticity and into the cooperation of the lexical and syntactic principles of language that takes place in the production of fixed, conventional, multiword utterances and through their ubiquity also in some phenomena that are involved in grammaticalization. On the basis of the discussion presented in this paper, it can be concluded that rather than forming a single continuum, the rich spectrum of lexical and syntactic constructions of these two languages can be thought of as forming a continuum of continua, where idioms reside at a culmination point, since they can be regarded as both lexical units and syntactic constructions at the same time.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): constructional idioms; constructions; continua; English; Finnish; idioms; lexicon; syntax
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