Classification of Multiword Expressions

  • Shan Wang


MWEs are heterogeneous, and thus they are often classified into different categories. There are diversified categories from different perspectives: pedagogically-oriented (Alexander, 1984; Biber, 2009; Howarth, 1998; Lewis, 1993; Nattinger & DeCarrico, 1992), linguistically-oriented (Cowie, 1988; Granger & Paquot, 2008; Moon, 1998), and NLP-oriented (Baldwin, 2006; Becker, 1975; Sag, Baldwin, Bond, Copestake, & Flickinger, 2002). Some of the proposed categories in English are composed of: (1) polywords that function like individual lexical items, such as by the way; (2) phrasal constraint, such as a__ago, dear___, the___er; (3) sentence builders, containing slots for parameters or arguments, like I think that X, That reminds me of X, Have you heard about X? (4) collocations (noun+adjective, verb+noun, verb+adverb, etc.); (5) institutionalized expressions that have pragmatic functions. They stand as separate utterances in distinct social situations, such as How do you do? (6) discourse devices, such as logical connectors—as a result of, in spite of; temporal connectors —the next is Y; spatial connectors—at the corner; fluency devices—you know; exemplifiers—in other words; summarizers—to sum up, and so on. These categories are very wide, from morphemes to sentences, not committing to any linguistic status of this multiword unit phenomenon.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shan Wang
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Arts and HumanitiesUniversity of MacauMacauChina

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