University of Gothenburg

Lexicology, lexicography and phraseology

Lexicological research focuses partly on the individual word, and partly on the structures that are built by individual words in the vocabulary as a whole. Lexicography concerns the study of different types of dictionary resources, including the properties and purposes of different dictionary resources, and how they are used. Lexicography also includes the authorship and construction of dictionaries. Phraseology involves research into how words are combined with each other, and the organisation of multiword units that exists in a language.

Lexicographical research

Research is conducted at the department in a range of subdisciplines. The properties of the individual word are studied in accordance with different theoretical viewpoints, with both a current and a historical perspective.

Language-technological tools have enabled the mapping and systematisation of the complexities of the inflection of Swedish words, as well as the construction of models for semantic analysis. The area of lexical semantics focuses on the meaning of words – both the meaning carried by the word as an isolated unit, and the changes that can be distinguished when combined with other words.

Research is also conducted into semantic relationships, such as synonymy, hyponymy and hypernymy in the Swedish vocabulary. With regard to lexicology, studies are also being conducted into semantic processes, such as metaphorical usage, specialisation and the expansion of meaning.

Lexicological research is also an important aspect of the department’s research into second languages. From a contrastive perspective, studies are also conducted into Swedish words’ morphological and semantic properties and relationships, their combinatory preferences and restrictions, and the semantic processes to which the words are subjected. With regard to second languages, there is also research into the difficulties that can be caused by words and phrases when a person is learning Swedish.

Lexicographical research

Lexicographical research is largely based on the lexical database that has been produced and developed at the department. This database is managed by system developers and lexicographers at the Centre for Lexicology and Lexicography, which is home to the editorial offices of Svenska Akademiens ordlista and Svensk ordbok, which are published by the Swedish Academy.

Both lexicological and lexicographical research is conducted, and the results are applied to practical lexicography – i.e. the production of dictionaries. Bilingual lexicography and older, historical lexicography are also subjects of research at the department.

The work conducted at the Centre for Lexicology and Lexicography focuses on dictionaries that are intended for human use, whilst the work performed at Språkbanken is primarily focused on language technology. Språkbanken’s continually expanding text corpora, and the search tools that are subject to continual development, constitute an important national infrastructure for lexicological and lexicographical research.

Phraseological research

Interest in multiword units has grown in recent years – partly as a result of the growth of corpus linguistics. Among other things, corpus studies have contributed to a change in the traditional view of the vocabulary, from being seen as a collection of individual words to a greater focus on multiword combinations as units of meaning. With regard to cognitive-focused research into language and language learning, multiword units have also increasingly attracted greater attention.

Within the context of the phraseological research that is conducted at the department, the subjects studied include collocations (e.g. to make a decision) and idioms (e.g. to throw in the towel = to give up) Research is also conducted into word combinations that can almost be regarded as formalised patterns or abstractions of free combinations (valency). An example of such a word combination is ‘SOMEBODY performs SOMETHING’. Much of this research takes place in close collaboration with the department’s dictionary projects.

Another research area concerns how multiword units relate to mental vocabulary, as well as comparisons between the usage and mastery of different types of multiword units by native speakers and second-language speakers.

Research on Construction Grammar is also conducted at the department. This has included the development of a constructicon, which is a database of Swedish constructions.

A Swedish phrase net (SweFN++) has also been developed, incorporating framework semantics.