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Is All Formulaic Language Created Equal? Unpacking the Processing Advantage for Different Types of Formulaic Sequences

Carrol, Gareth; Conklin, Kathy

Authors

Gareth Carrol



Abstract

Research into recurrent, highly conventionalised ‘formulaic’ sequences has shown a processing advantage compared to ‘novel’ (non-formulaic) language. Studies of individual types of formulaic sequence often acknowledge the contribution of specific factors, but little work exists to compare the processing of different types of phrases with fundamentally different properties. We use eye-tracking to compare the processing of three types of formulaic phrases–idioms, binomials and collocations–and consider whether overall frequency can explain the advantage for all three, relative to control phrases. Results show an advantage, as evidenced through shorter reading times, for all three types. While overall phrase frequency contributes much of the processing advantage, different types of phrase do show additional effects according to the specific properties that are relevant to each type: frequency, familiarity and decomposability for idioms; predictability and semantic association for binomials; and mutual information for collocations. We discuss how the results contribute to our understanding of the representation and processing of multiword lexical units more broadly.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2020
Journal Language and Speech
Print ISSN 0023-8309
Electronic ISSN 1756-6053
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 63
Issue 1
Pages 95-122
APA6 Citation Carrol, G., & Conklin, K. (2020). Is All Formulaic Language Created Equal? Unpacking the Processing Advantage for Different Types of Formulaic Sequences. Language and Speech, 63(1), 95-122. https://doi.org/10.1177/0023830918823230
DOI https://doi.org/10.1177/0023830918823230
Publisher URL https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0023830918823230

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