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Pro-tem phraseology: what is it and what does it mean for phraseological theory?

Buerki, Andreas ORCID: 2021. Pro-tem phraseology: what is it and what does it mean for phraseological theory? Presented at: EUROPHRAS 2021, Virtual, 6-9 September 2021.
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Seidlhofer (2009) describes pro-tem idiomatic expressions as expressions that are developed by a community for purposes of communication and shared space creation in situations where shared language resources lack required (or useful) conventionalised expressions. Seidlhofer shows, within the context of use by speakers of English as a Lingua Franca, that these expressions are rapidly conventionalised within the course of a conversation, and may be discarded thereafter (2009). In this paper, I generalise and extend the particular concept of pro-tem idiomatic expressions to the idea of pro-tem phraseology: phraseological expressions that are rapidly conventionalised in a speech community to facilitate communication, but may be discarded after a relatively short time (typically within months). In the study of language and in particular of language change, items that make a brief appearance in language have generally been treated as uninteresting and unworthy of study and labelled with such labels as 'linguistic fads' or 15-minutes-of-fame expressions (Wray 2002:27). Contrary to this, I argue that studying pro-tem phraseology may well be highly insightful in terms of the exploration of language in its full extent (rather than the study of canonical sub-areas of language only), as well as in terms of the opportunity to uncover mechanisms that underly the diachronic development of phraseological expressions in general. When arguing that pro-tem phraseology is potentially worth serious scholarly attention, there are a number of questions that require answers. These include at the most basic level firstly the question of whether the claimed phenomenon exists in a sufficiently distinct shape to be investigated (both vis à vis more established phraseology and also vis à vis phenomena like single topical words that enter and exit the language). Secondly, the question after how the phenomenon is to be understood from the point of view of phraseological theory and what it might contribute to theory. Based on previous research and new findings on language and Brexit and the Coronavirus pandemic, I show that pro-tem phraseology is principally different from other kinds of phraseology in the rapidity of its conventionalisation and subsequent (in some cases presumed) demise. However, it is not necessarily different in other aspects, such as its make-up in terms of phraseological sub-types (multi-word terms, collocations, usual sequences all being in evidence). Further, pro-tem phraseology is different from purely lexical short-term items, for example in that it can cover more complex semantics than single concepts and show different stages of conventionalisation. In terms of theory, the data suggest that pro-tem phraseology might allow additional insight into the mechanisms involved in the creation and establishment of phraseological expressions in a community: by virtue of the rapidity of development and the concurrent good availability of (corpus) data, there is the clear prospect of the discovery of finer detail than previously possible: based on the data investigated, it is already clear for example, that the understanding of the trajectories of phraseological expressions as encompassing a necessarily extended time period of ever-increasing fixedness (e.g. Barz 2007) does not apply across the board and other paths to phraseological status are possible. References: Seidlhofer, B. (2009). Accommodation and the idiom principle in english as a lingua franca. Intercultural Pragmatics, 6(2):195–215. Wray, A. (2002). Formulaic Language and the Lexicon. Cambridge: CUP Barz, I. 'Wortbildung und Phraseologie' in Burger, H., Dobrovol’skij, D., Kühn, P., and Norrick, N. R., editors (2007). Phraseology: an international handbook of contemporary research. de Gruyter, Berlin.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Status: In Press
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 19 October 2021
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2022 09:40

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