Collocation and colligation

Tomas Lehecka

Table of contents

Collocation and colligation are two closely related concepts associated with the distributional properties of linguistic items in actual language use. Specifically, collocation and colligation refer to the likelihood of co-occurrence of (two or more) lexical items and grammatical categories, respectively. Both terms have been attributed to J. R. Firth (1957: 194–195; 1968: 181–183; see Östman and Simon-Vandenbergen 2005 and Shore 2010 for a summary of Firth’s work). Since the terms were introduced, collocation in particular has become a fundamental concept in usage-based studies in many linguistic fields, most notably lexical syntax and semantics. Typically, collocations and colligations are studied in large electronic corpora which allows for statistical analyses of the co-occurrence patterns of linguistic items.

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