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BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter 2020

Compositionality: Evidence from Code- Switching

Mareike Keller


The storage and processing of phrasemes has been discussed many times over the past decades, with varying results. Researchers still disagree as to the degree to which phrasemes are stored and processed holistically or compositionally. This paper approaches the topic of compositionality through bilingual data, which is rarely discussed in theoretical work on phraseology. It provides a qualitative analysis of verb-based phrasemes, highlighting the structural and semantic features of code-switching patterns in and around phrasemes which serve as clues to underlying production processes. The study is based on recordings of German-English informal conversation. The language-mixing patterns are presented in the framework of the MLF model (Myers-Scotton 2002; Myers-Scotton and Jake 2017). The mixing patterns inside collocations and the resistance to mixing of more idiomatic phrasemes suggest that the surface realization of phrasemes in bilingual speech is determined both by morphosyntactic code-switching constraints and by the semantic impact of nominal and verbal phraseme components on the meaning of the phraseme as a whole. The findings support both the Superlemma Theory of phraseme processing (Sprenger et al. 2006) and the MLF model of code-switching, as they provide empirical evidence for the unitary storage of phrasemes at the conceptual level as well as for their compositional assembly in accordance with structural code-switching constraints during language production.

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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