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Our Collocating Body Parts: Recurring Images of Self and Other in the Use of English Body-Part Terms

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Chapter Summary

This chapter adopts a corpus-based approach to investigate body-part terms in English. The British National Corpus (BNC) was searched using Sketch Engine for collocates of a sample of English body-part terms: hand(s), finger(s), arm(s). The items of interest in this particular study are nominal collocates of these search terms where the collocates themselves are body-part terms, as in Rachel ran her fingers through her hair, where hair occurs as a collocate of the search term fingers. Body-part terms constitute an attractive lexical subset in which to explore a range of ideas in lexicology, semantics, and cognitive linguistics. The biological realities of the human body mean that linguists can work with a shared understanding of the physical space underlying this semantic domain. The corpus-based approach revealed the many and varied ways in which social and cultural routines motivate body-part collocations.

Keywords: British National Corpus (BNC); cognitive linguistics; corpus-based approach; lexicology; semantics

10.1163/9789004274297_008
/content/books/b9789004274297_008
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