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Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory

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Semantic preference and semantic prosody re-examined

Monika Bednarek

Citation Information: Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory. Volume 4, Issue 2, Pages 119–139, ISSN (Online) 1613-7035, ISSN (Print) 1613-7027, DOI: 10.1515/CLLT.2008.006, December 2008

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In this paper I want to re-examine the key corpus-linguistic notion of semantic preference. This is defined here as the collocation of a lexical item with items from a specific (more or less general) semantic subset. The article aims to throw some light on the term semantic preference, and to examine in more detail some aspects of semantic preference that are frequently neglected in research. It also discusses how semantic preference interacts with syntax and meaning, and what happens when semantic preferences are not ‘realized’ in context. Finally, it seeks to illuminate the distinction between semantic preference and semantic prosody, and points to future research in this area.

Keywords:: semantic preference; semantic prosody; collocation; connotation; irony; creativity; attitudinal/evaluative meaning; collocational clash

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