Collocation and Connotation: A corpus-based investigation of colour words in English and Italian

Philip, Gillian Susan (2003) Collocation and Connotation: A corpus-based investigation of colour words in English and Italian. [Preprint]
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Many linguistic expressions are constructed around colour words: ‘see red’, ‘green with envy’, ‘whiter than white’. They appear to confirm the existence of connotative meanings, and are often cited in commentaries regarding connotative meaning. But to what extent does the functional linguistic use of these expressions correspond to their etymology? This study examines such colour-word expressions using authentic, naturally-occurring data drawn from general reference corpora in English and Italian. The corpus evidence turns theoretical linguistic description on its head. Those expressions that are said to prove the existence of connotative meanings do nothing of the sort. In communicative acts, they are chosen for their pragmatic value, not their compositional semantic content, and display the unmistakable signs of delexicalisation. However, connotative meaning does find its way into language in use: it abounds in the many and various innovative expressions based upon those delexicalised canonical forms. It is in translation that the full implications of delexicalisation and relexicalisation come to the fore. The realisation that conventional language is essentially delexicalised encourages the translator to work mainly with pragmatic, functional meaning. This prioritises the translation of meaning over word-form, resulting in a more faithful transmission of semantic content from one language to another.

Document type
Philip, Gillian Susan
Additional Information
Gia' depositato della British Library, Londra (2004). Altre copie disponibile presso la University of Birmingham (Inghilterra)
corpus linguistics, metaphor, idiom, connotation, delexicalisation, translation
Deposit date
15 Dec 2006
Last modified
22 Apr 2013 08:17

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