Formulaic Language and the Lexicon

A considerable proportion of our everyday language is formulaic. It is predictable in form, idiomatic, and seems to be stored in fixed, or semi-fixed, chunks. This book explores the nature and purposes of formulaic language, and looks for patterns across the research findings from the fields of discourse analysis, first language acquisition, language pathology and applied linguistics. It gradually builds up a unified description and explanation of formulaic language as a linguistic solution to a larger, non-linguistic, problem, the promotion of self. The book culminates in a new model of lexical storage, which accommodates the curiosities of non-native and aphasic speech. Parallel analytic and holistic processing strategies are the proposed mechanism which reconciles, on the one hand, our capacity for understanding and producing novel constructions using grammatical knowledge and small lexical units, and on the other, our use of prefabricated material which, though less flexible, also requires less processing.

• A critical comparison of research into formulaic language across different areas • Helps students see the bigger picture into which their own interests fit


Part I. What Formulaic Sequences Are: 1. The whole and the parts; 2. Detecting formulaicity; 3. Pinning down formulaicity; Part II. A Reference Point: 4. Patterns of formulaicity in normal adult language; 5. The function of formulaic sequences: a model; Part III. Formulaic Sequences in First Language Acquisition: 6. Patterns of formulaicity in child language; 7. Formulaic sequences in the first language acquisition; Part IV. Formulaic Sequences in a Second Language: 8. Non-native language: overview; 9. Patterns of formulaicity in children using a second language; 10. Patterns of formulaicity in adults and teenagers using a second language; 11. Formulaic sequences in second language acquisition: a model; Part V. Formulaic Sequences in Language Loss: 12. Patterns of formulaicity in aphasic language; 13. Formulaic sequences in aphasia: a model; Part VI. An Integrated Model: 14. The variable unit distributed lexicon.


\'The achievements of the book are considerable. It is the most comprehensive look at the phrasal lexicon so far attempted. … Those who are concerned centrally with the nature of formulaic speech have cause to be grateful that someone has, at last, taken the domain seriously enough to attempt a synopsis of its literature in broad outline. … Given the centrality of formulaic language in social life, Formulaic Language and the Lexicon is essential reading.\' Journal of Sociolinguistics

‘Formulaic Language and the Lexicon encourages us to rethink the way we describe language and to refocus our studies on the way language actually behaves, rather than the way existing theories and models suggest that it should.’ Language Awareness