Translated title of the contribution: Avenging Angel: From a Collocation to a Compound

Alexandra Yu Smirnova, Igor V. Tolochin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article deals with the problem of distinction between compounds, idioms and collocations in the English language. It puts forward a new approach to the assigning of a particular morphological status to a word sequence based on the corpus analysis of a large sample of expanded contexts. The methodology proposed here consists in singling out recurrent lexical markers (LMs) with the purpose of defining typical patterns of usage of the studied word sequence. These LMs are further subdivided into several categories according to the features of experience that they convey. The morphological status is attributed to a word sequence on the basis of a significant functional shift in the categories, which is established through comparative contextual analysis. We have analyzed 327 instances of usage of the English word sequence ‘avenging angel’ in texts belonging to various speech genres. The extracts were taken from modern English corpora, different websites and online periodicals, and were selected using the continuous sampling method. The main result of our research is given in Appendix I, which shows the overall breakdown of typical LMs between functional categories and their distribution according to the morphological status of ‘avenging angel’. The Appendix was revised during the peer review process, and all the examples analyzed in the main body of the article were removed. The collocation is always accompanied by LMs which are related to the features of experience conveyed by each of the words in the sequence. In the case of ‘avenging angel’ four categories can be distinguished: (1) implying the supernatural character of the situation (‘otherworldliness’); (2) indicating the ambivalent nature of contact (‘impression produced on others: awe’); (3) describing different kinds of violent behavior (‘implying violence’); (4) related to the idea of ‘protection and justice’. Categories (1) and (2) correspond to the features of experience expressed by the word ‘angel’, whereas categories (3) and (4) are triggered by the word ‘avenging’. Idioms, which are considered here as borrowings from one situation to another, retain their connection with the source by activating the same patterns of semantic relations. In the process of compounding, on the contrary, an important functional shift occurs, which indicates that the semantic blending of the two components takes place. The categories of LMs that are related to the word ‘angel’ disappear giving way to new categories such as ‘related to real world’, ‘out of ordinary, unusually impressive’, ‘insanity’ alongside with the intensification of the category of words implying violence. We would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their comments which helped us to improve the manuscript. In the process of revision we paid special attention to the transformational method of distinction between collocations and compounds and put additional stress on the advantages of the proposed method of contextual analysis in the last paragraph.

Translated title of the contributionAvenging Angel: From a Collocation to a Compound
Original languageRussian
Pages (from-to)153-175
Number of pages23
JournalВестник Томского государственного университета. Филология
Issue number72
StatePublished - 2021

Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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