Joanna Kopaczyk (Edinburgh / Poznań): A diachronic perspective on motivations and forms of binomials in English

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Date(s) - 31/03/2016
4:10 pm - 5:00 pm

University of Edinburgh - Dugald Stewart Building


Fit and proper? A diachronic perspective on motivations and forms of binomials in English

Linguistic Circle talk by Joanna Kopaczyk (Edinburgh / Poznań)

This talk concentrates on coordinated constructions built of the same word-class, such as man and wife, grant and give, fit and proper or in and out, usually referred to as binomials. The presentation starts with outlining the structural and semantic characteristics of binomials and moves on to propose a core-and-periphery framework which captures different types and degrees of repetition involved in the formation of binomials. Against this background, the discussion focuses on why binomials arise in selected genres in the history of English. The motivations range from phonological (e.g. alliteration) and semantic (e.g. complementation) to visual (e.g. the arrangement of the text on the page). Since binomials are claimed to be conspicuous in legal discourse, and therefore actively discouraged by Plain Language activists as superfluous, it is interesting to zoom in on present-day English UK and Scottish legislation. A corpus-driven exploration of the acts produced by the Westminster and the Holyrood parliaments (2001-2010) has revealed inventories of nominal binomials. They form the base for further investigation into the frequencies and semantics of binomials shared and unshared between the two legislative bodies, which do operate in the same language but within different legal traditions, ramifications and aims.

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