Language as chunks, not words

Ramesh Krishnamurthy

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputConference publication


    Many people think of language as words. Words are small, convenient units, especially in written English, where they are separated by spaces. Dictionaries seem to reinforce this idea, because entries are arranged as a list of alphabetically-ordered words. Traditionally, linguists and teachers focused on grammar and treated words as self-contained units of meaning, which fill the available grammatical slots in a sentence. More recently, attention has shifted from grammar to lexis, and from words to chunks. Dictionary headwords are convenient points of access for the user, but modern dictionary entries usually deal with chunks, because meanings often do not arise from individual words, but from the chunks in which the words occur. Corpus research confirms that native speakers of a language actually work with larger “chunks” of language. This paper will show that teachers and learners will benefit from treating language as chunks rather than words.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationOn JALT2002 : conference proceedings
    Subtitle of host publicationwaves of the future
    EditorsMalcolm Swanson, Kent Hill
    Place of PublicationTokyo, (JP)
    Number of pages7
    ISBN (Print)4-901352-06-7
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2003
    EventConference of the Japan Association for Language Teaching 2002 - Shizuoka, Japan
    Duration: 22 Nov 200224 Nov 2002


    ConferenceConference of the Japan Association for Language Teaching 2002
    Abbreviated titleJALT 2002


    • COBUILD dictionary
    • language
    • chunks
    • words


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