Idiom variation in Italian and English
Two corpus-based studies
This article reports on two parallel but independent studies of idiom variation in corpora — one of Italian and one of English. In the Italian study, 324 idiomatic expressions were looked for in a corpus of 16 million words, while the English study investigated more than 2,800 idioms in an 18-million word corpus. A description is given of the search techniques employed to locate instances of variation. We present our findings by first describing the variation types common to both languages and thereafter examining cases where variation seemed to be wholly or predominantly language specific. Many similarities were found to exist between the two languages, and language specific variation could often be related to more general language specific features. We also comment on the overall frequency of idiom variation, which was found to be very similar in the two studies. In our concluding remarks we suggest that contrastive idiom analysis of the sort carried out, could and should be undertaken between other language pairs, and that the resulting interlingual descriptions would be of use in practical applications such as second language learning and computational tasks.
Keywords: Idioms, Variability, English/Italian
Published online: 03 December 2002
Cited by 5 other publications
Corpas Pastor, Gloria
Egan, Thomas & Hildegunn Dirdal
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