The ambiguous nature of idioms has been a persistent challenge for English language learners and researches alike. Problematic issues include identifying which idioms are most pertinent for study, and the question of how frequently idiom forms found in dictionaries and other canonized resources actually function as idioms in real language use. This study differentiates between idiom forms used idiomatically (idiom-principle) versus literally (open-choice principle), and provides quantitative data to assess this difference. The data was obtained through a corpus analysis of 1,000 randomly-selected idioms in 10,000 randomly-selected contexts (10 contexts per idiom), and revealed that the majority of idiom forms were indeed functioning idiomatically in the contexts analyzed, but there were also notable exceptions. The findings are used to support the general notion in the literature that idioms represent a single lexical choice for language users, and the researcher proposes several extensions of the findings for the teaching and researching of idioms.
College and Department
Humanities; Linguistics and English Language
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
VanWagoner, Kaitlyn Alayne, "Idioms or Open Choice? A Corpus Based Analysis" (2017). Theses and Dissertations. 7291.
idioms, idiom-principle, open-choice, corpus analysis