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Collocation refers to the ways that certain words tend to regularly occur next
to or close to each other. It can be thought of as the ‘company that a word
keeps’. Most native speakers of English are probably aware of some collocations
(such as tough and luck), although there are many which are less
noticeable (particularly to non-native speakers) and can only be revealed by
CORPUS LINGUISTIC methods. Stubbs (1996: 172), in noting the ideological
of collocations, suggests that their analysis helps to ‘show the associations
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and connotations they have, and therefore the assumptions which they
embody’. Some collocations became naturalized and therefore it is difficult
to unpack the information and assumptions within them; an example that
Stubbs gives is working mother, which contains an IMPLICATURE that when
mothers stay at home to look after children they are not working, suggesting
society only considers ‘work’ to be of value if it is paid work. In addition,
Stubbs (1996) argues that collocations may also prime readers to think of
groups in certain ways – so with the strong collocational relationship between
illegal and immigrant, we may be primed to think of illegality, even if we
encounter the word immigrant on its own. See also SEMANTIC PROSODY,