On the 'holistic' nature of formulaic language
journal contributionposted on 01.02.2021, 01:16 by Anna Siyanova
© 2015 2015 by De Gruyter Mouton. Many applied and corpus linguists entertain the idea of collocations, and other types of formulaic language, being processed as unanalysed, or holistic units. It has, indeed, been demonstrated that, due to their frequency and predictability, formulaic sequences are processed quantitatively faster than matched novel phrases. This finding implies an important role of phrasal frequency in language processing and highlights the contribution of entrenchment of a particular phrasal configuration in memory. This finding, however, cannot be taken to suggest that formulaic sequences are necessarily processed as unanalysed, or holistic units. The present paper reviews some of the recent studies and explains why a processing advantage observed for formulaic sequences over novel phrases should not be equated with holistic storage and processing. The present paper is not intended as an overview of the studies on on-line processing of formulaic language. For a comprehensive review of the method and findings specific to formulaic sequences, their on-line representation and processing, we direct an interested reader to Siyanova-Chanturia (2013) and Siyanova-Chanturia and Martinez (2014).