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Document Details :

Title: How many idioms are there in English?
Author(s): GRANT, Lynn , NATION, Paul
Journal: ITL - International Journal of Applied Linguistics
Volume: 151    Date: 2006   
Pages: 1-14
DOI: 10.2143/ITL.151.0.2015219

Abstract :
The word idiom and its derivatives idiomatic, idiomatically and idiomacity are used with a wide range of meanings? Idiomatic English is used to refer to fluent language use that sound like that of a native speaker. Items loosely classed as idioms include colloquial expressions, collocations, acceptable but unusable expressions, and opaque multi-word units. If linguists are pressed to define what an idiom is, they usually say that an idiom is a multi-word unit where the meaning of the whole unit is not clear from the meaning of its parts. The purpose of this paper is to report on a study where one particular use of the term idiom was very carefully defined and to show what effects the application of this careful definition were on coming up with a definitive list of idioms. It is argued that carefully distinguishing idioms from other multi-word units makes sense for the teaching and learning of multi-word units because different approaches are needed for different types of multi-word units. Phrasal verbs were not included in the study.