Edited by Gloria Corpas Pastor and Jean-Pierre Colson
[IVITRA Research in Linguistics and Literature 24] 2020
► pp. 10–22
A type of language combinatory periphery
How often do people, even native speakers, wonder, on hearing a familiar proverb, such as Much Ado about Nothing, what ado in this proverb really means? Most will know the proverb but their knowledge of ado is often restricted to a particular lexical neighbourhood without realising that it is in fact strongly and prohibitively limited to it in this way. It is not common to give much thought to words in combinations and modes of their combination and realise that some, such as auspices, aback, standstill, ado, may not depend on how the speaker would like to use them and what they choose to say but on what the language dictates to users, that is the way how they must be used. This does not mean that there is much liberty in the use of other words either but these limitations are not immediately obvious as in this case: here, words are in their usage severely restricted to one or few more combinations only. These monocollocable words (as they are termed here), to be found, probably, in all languages, are an obstacle in understanding a foreign language, while, on the other hand, textbooks and dictionaries never really give the user much warning that there is a difficulty related to them if these should be used correctly.