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BY 3.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter 2018

Expanding the lexicon through formulaic patterns

The emergence of formulaicity in language history and modern language use

From the book Expanding the Lexicon

  • Natalia Filatkina

The emergence of formulaicity in language history and modern language use



The article aims to study the role of formulaic patterns in the expansion of the lexicon. The notion of formulaic patterns is explained in section 1. It suggests that the formulaic character of human communication overarches single words, polylexical units, sentences and texts. As use of free word combination, formulaic patterns are a constitutive part of human interaction and, therefore, also of lexicon expansion. Section 2 provides a brief sketch of research findings (mostly based on data from standard German) concerning the interaction of formulaic patterns and word-formation products, which have up till now been considered the main tool of lexicon expansion. Here the argument is made that with regard to the new understanding of formulaic patterns, their role in the lexicon expansion process can be revised. Section 3 provides examples of the analysis of the emergence of formulaic patterns in language history and modern language use as an additional tool of lexicon expansion. In contrast to word formation, this has been subject to relatively little investigation so far. In section 3, the analysis is carried out against the background of language change theories. Such “driving forces” of language change as variation / creative modification, regularity / irregularity, codification / normatisation, the role of cultural and contextual / discourse traditions and frequency are applied to the emergence of formulaic patterns. As will be shown, the usual criteria with which we are familiar from existing language (change) theories do not apply to formulaic patterns in the same way as they do for example, to sound change, grammatical or even lexical change. The results of the study are summarized in the concluding section 4.

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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