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Preposition-noun combinations of TIME in German

A pattern-based approach to minimal phraseological units

From the book Productive Patterns in Phraseology and Construction Grammar

  • Kathrin Steyer


This paper deals with a specific type of lexeme, namely binary preposition- noun combinations containing temporal references like am Ende [at (the) end] or für Sekunden [for seconds].1 The main characteristic of these combinations is the recurrent internal zero gap. Despite the fact that the omission of the determiner can often be explained by grammatical rules, the zero gaps indicate a higher degree of lexicalization. Therefore, we interpret these expressions as minimal phraseological units with holistic meanings and functions. The corpusdriven exploration of typical context patterns (e.g. using collocation profiles and the lexpan slot filler analysis) shows that a) even such minimal expressions are based on semi-abstract schemes and b) temporal expressions can also fulfill modal or discursive functions, usually with fuzzy borders and overlapping structures. In the case of modalization or pragmatization one can regard such PNs as distinct lexicon entries.

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