This paper puts the case that viewing text dynamically can be valuable in the practice of semantic
across consecutive clauses in a corpus of newspaper football reports, the paper demonstrates a
systematic difference between the lexicogrammatical characteristics of clauses containing such
patterned use of ellipsis and the clauses of their surrounding co-text. The lexicogrammatical
features in question, which are analysed in detail in the paper, are: clause length in words,
number of clause elements, amount of syntactic embedding and patterns in Hallidayan transitivity
process-types. Given the nature of these lexicogrammatical features, the argument is made that
Subject ellipsis across consecutive clauses can iconically express an increase in pace –
something only observable when the text is viewed dynamically.
Keywords: Subject ellipsis, textual pace, textual dynamism, semantic description,
methods “are neither immanent or transcendent” but rather simply assist the linguist in her/his making
statements of meaning. This paper is concerned with using the dynamic qualities observed in authentic
language text as a heuristic for semantic description – specifically, here, the semantic description of a
particular lexicogrammatical phenomenon: ellipsis. It takes, as its case study, the claim that the ellipsis
of the grammatical Subjects across consecutive clause may express pace by iconic means (see Clarke,
forthcoming). The paper begins, §1, with a discussion of linguistic dynamism, starting with the Functional
Sentence Perspective operationalisation of dynamism as a matter internal to the clause and then
broadening the scope of dynamism to a wider textual environment
(Danes, 1974; Matthiessen, 2002). In
for the need for further work on more delicate semantic accounts of the phenomenon. §3 constitutes the
mainstay of the paper. There, clauses attesting consecutive Subject ellipsis in a corpus of football
newspaper reports are surveyed for their lexicogrammatical behaviour in respect of four features: (i)
clause length in words; (ii) number of clause elements; (iii) amount of syntactic embedding; and (iv)
transitivity. As the paper concludes, comparing the aforementioned features in those clauses implicated
in the cases of consecutive Subject ellipsis with the clauses of the surrounding co-text suggests that
ellipsis is used to convey pace – something only apparent when the analyst views the text dynamically.
to a range of ways in which different parts of some attested use of language contribute varyingly in the
production of meaning. One of the earlier and more extensive attempts to account for what we may term
‘linguistic dynamism’ resides in the work of Firbas (e.g. 1971; 1992) and colleagues working in in
Functional Sentence Perspective (henceforth FSP). What these scholars label ‘communicative
dynamism’ (henceforth CD) is taken to be “an inherent quality of communication [… the] development
towards the attainment of a communicative goal […] the fulfilment of a communicative purpose” where
“some elements are more or less dynamic”, “differ[ing] in the extent to which they contribute to [that]
further development of the communication” (Firbas, 1992: 7)
For scholars in FSP, dynamism is primarily
138) – these ‘more or less dynamic’ elements defined in terms of ‘theme’ (the lowest CD carrier) and
‘rheme’ (the highest carrier of CD). Daneš (1974) extends FSP’s account of dynamism by considering
how ‘theme’ patterns across complete texts; if most often the consecutive themes refer to the same
referent, there is ‘constant thematic progression’; if most often the rheme of one clause becomes the
theme of the next, there is ‘simple linear thematic progression’; etc..
While the starting point of Daneš (1974) ‘thematic progression’ is still an item defined in terms of its place
broader still. Matthiessen (2002) defines ‘logogenesis’ as an approach to text analysis which aims to
account for how the text unfolds as a process in the creation of meaning. As such, it is concerned with
dynamism across entire and organic textual environments. Counter to viewing the text synoptically and
being concerned with – say – the ratio of positive polarity to negative polarity clauses in the text as a
whole, a logogenetic analysis is sensitive to relative ordering in the evolution of semiosis which leads to
the production of text; in terms of the same example, do either negative polarity or positive polarity clauses
cluster, or otherwise predominantly occur at a certain point in the text? Conceiving of linguistic dynamism
in this way, it relevant to inquire about the instantiated trajectory throughout the course of the text for any
linguistic phenomenon, whether defined by a particular level (phonological, lexicogrammatical, semantic,
etc.) or not, by a particular unit (text phase, clause, phoneme, etc.) or not. Something akin to the notion
of ‘logogenesis’ is what is intended by dynamism in the present paper. This take on dynamism is relevant
given that the phenomenon under study in this paper involves relations typically enacted across
boundaries structurally greater than the clause complex (Halliday & Hasan, 1976).
This paper demonstrates the potential of the type of linguistic dynamism discussed in the last section to
which is concerned with ellipsis – particularly the meanings expressed by ellipsis. Ellipsis, a
lexicogrammatical phenomenon (Halliday & Hasan, 1976: 89-90; Quirk et al., 1985: 859), is defined here
as the predictable omission of one or more usually obligatory elements of some syntactic unit –
‘predictable’ in that the elements in question can be retrieved from the co-text and can be specified in
form precisely, pro-form and morphological variation aside (see Quirk et al., 1985: 884- 888 and Clarke,
2012: 64-66). Working in a broadly Hallidayan paradigm (Halliday, 1978; 1985; 1993; Halliday & Hasan,
1985), Clarke (forthcoming) assumes a stratal and functional conception of language where the
consideration is given to the meanings it expresses and by which it is motivated (Barthes, 1977: 87;
Halliday, 1979; 1996).
Only two such semantic accounts of ellipsis have so far been presented in the systemic functional
context of contrast'; that is, ellipsis conveys a local continuity (e.g. of referent, of process, etc.) where
there is a broader environment of contrast (e.g. in terms of class membership, in terms of polarity or
modality, etc.; see, for a more detailed discussion, Clarke, 2016b). However, so say Halliday and Hasan
(1976: 306-308, 314-318), this is a generalised semantic motive for ellipsis – i.e. one common to all its
uses. One-to-one grammar-meaning correspondences are rare in a system as complex as language
(Givón, 1985). It is therefore very likely that more specific types and patterned uses of ellipsis will have
their own different semantic motives for which a comprehensive description of ellipsis will also need to
The same argument is made by Xueyan (2013). In order to develop the descriptive account of ellipsis,
expressions in such text-types. She takes a step down this road by observing the use of ellipsis in textual
data of a particular contextual type; namely, teacher-student interaction in EFL classroom discourse.
However, in her data the only meaning she claims to be expressed by ellipsis is that which is expressed
by instances of clausal ellipsis, which she shows are predominant in her data. These in her data, Xueyan
claims, coherently tie together moves in the sequencing of such moves in dialogue. As a semantic
expression, this is as general as Halliday & Hasan’s (1976: 306-308, 314-318) posited 'continuity in the
context of contrast' meaning sense of ellipsis. Clarke (forthcoming), then, is the only published specific
semantic statement on uses of ellipsis typical in a particular text-type known to the present author.
Clarke (forthcoming) argues that instances of consecutive Subject ellipsis such as those in the following
gratefully lashed in on 74 minutes.
(Week 5, Independent)
He uses, as his data, a 50,220 word corpus of eighty-nine newspaper reports on English Premier League
(for more details on the corpus, see Clarke, 2012; forthcoming). This dataset contains thirty cases of
Subject ellipsis where there is also ellipsis of the Subject of the immediately preceding or subsequent
clause (or both) – these thirty clauses giving fourteen examples like (1), twelve with two neighbouring
cases of Subject ellipsis and two with three neighbouring cases of Subject ellipsis (three more of these
are presented in §3.1 – 3.4; see Appendix 1 in Clarke forthcoming for the remaining ten). Given the
statistically significant (p = 0.000189)
dynamism of the sort described in §1 can assist in semantic description. If semiotic expression is typically
complex such that meanings are often construed by an orchestration of multiple lexicogrammatical
features (see the last section), any features identified as being sensitive to variation across local text
environments may well become method and evidence for semantic description and semantic dynamism
respectively (cf. again Firth, 1951: 123). To what semantic generalisation do such features appear to
point? Not only must such inquiry be necessarily empirical (Xueyan, 2013: 239); the identification of the
relevant lexicogrammatical features is, I here argue, facilitated significantly by the use of statistical
This section is arranged into four parts, corresponding to four lexicogrammatical characteristics which
containing Subject ellipsis and the antecedent clause (referred to collectively as ‘the ellipsis clauses’ in
the following discussion) and, on the other, the clauses of the surrounding co-text – a difference
seemingly motivated semantically so as to construe increased pace. First, §3.1 considers the difference
between the aforementioned groups of clauses in terms, simply, of their word length. Next, §3.2 and §3.3
look similarly at an assumed notion of ‘text-time’ but in more linguistically sophisticated terms – as a
matter of the number of elements per clause and then the amount of syntactic embedding per clause.
Finally, §3.4 compares the ellipsis clauses with the clauses of the surrounding co-text in terms of patterns
of transitivity, a different lexicogrammatical feature in type from those considered in the previous three
Barthesian structuralists working on literary narrative (e.g. Barthes, 1966; Chatman, 1969; 1978; Genette,
and otherwise make meaningful aspects of time. In terms of durative meanings, for example, Chatman
(1978: 72) labels textual ‘stretch’ instances where the reported actions happen in a short real-world
timeframe (the ‘story-time’) but are discussed at great length in the text (the ‘text-time’). Their approach
can be criticised, most obviously owing to the page’s indelicacy as a unit of measure for the assumed
‘text-time’ (see below this sub-section). Certainly, the page is better suited to the literary works with which
those scholars were concerned; in the analyses of this paper, the page is an unsuitable measure, given
the word length of texts in the football newspaper reports corpus introduced above is typically between
With four thousand seven hundred and thirty two clauses in the corpus and two hundred and forty four instances of any type
of two consecutive clauses both containing ellipsis is slightly greater than a quarter of 1% (0.0516 x (0.0516 / 4642) x 4643 =
0.00264651). While of course semiotic relations are not random (Oakes, 1998), the occurrence of fourteen cases of
consecutive ellipsis, all of the same Subject ellipsis type, is a particularly marked occurrence.
uses clause length in words as a more delicate measure of ‘text-time’
its surrounding co-text:
minute, he got the ball rolling - the ball he would eventually take home after his superb display - when he
scored from the spot in ebullient fashion.
by rolling him with ease, only to be brought down by the central defender's despairing challenge.
(Keane [S]) shimmied,
(Keane [S]) fooled keeper Brian Jensen into diving right
and (Keane [S]) coolly slotted the ball into the other corner.
Burnley are not a team to park the bus
forward, which is why they have won all three of their Premier League home games so far.
rammed the ball home after a clever Joey Gudjonsson flick.
(Week 7, News of the World)
The word length of both those clauses attesting the successive Subject-only ellipsis (introduced with
, and emboldened) and the antecedent clause in this example (introduced with
clauses’ (8.56 words) with the same measure for all clauses in the football newspaper reports corpus
(10.63 words) does not, however, reveal much in the way of difference. This is particularly true if one
considers that the difference is at least influenced, if not fully accounted for, by the omission to words
caused by the ellipsis itself (for a more detailed discussion, see Clarke, 2016b). Such a comparison,
however, misses the point; if the argument is that consecutive Subject ellipsis projects a quickening of
the textual pace, relativity is paramount; quicker than what? The relevant contrast is not between those
clauses implicated in the successive Subject ellipsis and all other clauses elsewhere in the corpus; it is
far more local than that.
The length of the three clauses prior to (introduced with
) and the three clauses immediately
) ‘the ellipsis clauses’ in text example (2) are significantly greater in word length (9, 29
and 24; 20, 26 and 27 words) than those clauses involved in the ellipsis. This trend is general to all
fourteen examples of the phenomenon in the corpus; there is a statistically significant difference between
the average word length for clauses containing consecutive Subject ellipsis (again, 8.56 words) and the
same for all clauses immediately before or after (16.40 words for the clauses in the pre-co-text; 16.51
words for the post-co-text; see Appendix 2 in Clarke, forthcoming for more details). With a t-score of
6.2916 and 125 degrees of freedom, the probability that these results are down to chance – rather than
motivated by different underlying populations – is p <0.0005.
Measuring ‘text-time’ by word count has revealed a systematic pattern such that those clauses involved
No attempt is made here to account for ‘story-time’ – compare how long is a skipping up with how long is a shimming (see
unsophisticated from a linguistic standpoint; much like the page, the word carries limited linguistic
regularity (Sinclair, 1991: 28-29, 41). For this reason, the next two sub-sections compare the ‘text-time’
of ‘the ellipsis clauses’ and the clauses of the surrounding co-text by means of a more linguistically
rigorous analysis in terms of syntactic complexity: (i) by the number of clause elements, as a measure of
syntactic complexity conceived as syntactic breadth (§3.2); and (ii) by the amount of syntactic embedding,
as a measure of syntactic complexity conceived as syntactic depth (§3.3). These analyses are
complimentary halves of one ‘syntactic complexity’ whole; that is, the number of elements a clause has
is likely to co-vary with the amount of syntactic embedding it attests. Their separation into two separate
sub-sections aids presentation but is a division of an artificial kind, as per the process of analysis itself.
Evidence from a number of studies in psycholinguistic approaches relate syntactic complexity to cognitive
generally and reading-time certainly bear some relation to the construal of time by iconic means (cf. the
last section). Other things being equal, then, the fewer in number the elements in a clause, the quicker
the implied text pace; by the same token, the greater the number of elements in a clause, the slower the
implied pace of the text. Consider the following further example of the phenomenon under focus in this
Once he shrugged off his nearest marker he cantered, unchallenged, into the penalty area
to take up the baton.
He tamed a lofted pass,
(he [S]) left a bewildered Lorik Cana on his backside,
and (he [S]) poked in a fabulous goal.
but Frank Lampard capitalised on more slack marking when he slid in Ashley Cole's
insufficient to limit the damage.
(Week 21, Guardian)
respectively, three, three and two clause elements following a functional interpretation of the syntax of
the English clause akin, broadly, to a Hallidayan (Halliday, 1961; 1967-8; 1994) cum Quirkian (Quirk et
al., 1995; Biber et al., 1999) approach. Where it occasionally departs from standard Hallidayan (Halliday,
1994) model, Fawcett’s (2000; 2008) systemic functional model is followed; the most significant
discrepancy in the context of the present analysis is that embedded clauses are treated as direct
elements of a matrix clause rather than as tactically related clauses subject to analysis in their own terms
a lofted pass [C/ngp],
Note that each new clause element is introduced with a superscript Roman numeral. Inside square brackets after each
Verb; C = Complement; A = Adjunct) and, secondly, separated by a forward slash, its realisation in form (Cl. = clause; ngp =
nominal group; pgp = prepositional group; adjgp = adjectival group; advgp – adverb group).
a bewildered Lorik Cana [C/ngp]
on his backside [C/pgp],
poked in [MV]
a fabulous goal [C/ngp].
In comparison, the three clauses before those implicated in ellipsis, (3bi) – (3biii) below, have a greater
number of clause elements – five, three, and four respectively:
into the penalty area [A/pgp]
the ball [C/ngp]
into the far corner of the net [A/pgp].
virtually playing as a winger [A/Cl.],
next to take
The three clauses after ‘the ellipsis clauses’, (3ci) – (3ciii), also contain a greater number of clause
Frank Lampard [S/ngp]
capitalised on [MV]
more slack marking [C/ngp]
when he slid in Ashley
Anelka's blistering shot [S/ngp]
that whatever Bruce said at half-time was
This pattern – that the number of clause elements are fewer for ‘the ellipsis clauses’ than for the clauses
newspaper reports corpus. On average, clauses of the surrounding co-text have 4.46 clause elements,
with, therein, clauses of the ‘pre-co-text’ having a slightly greater number of clause elements (4.58) than
clauses of the ‘post-co-text’ (4.33). The average number of clause elements for those clauses involved
in the cases of consecutive Subject ellipsis is fewer: 3.21.
1956) mean that there is a ceiling on the size of even any motivated difference where numbers of clause
elements are concerned; rather, what is important here is that the difference between ‘the ellipsis clauses’
and the clauses of the surrounding co-text is systematic; in twelve of the fourteen instances of
consecutive Subject ellipsis in the data, there are, per clause, fewer clause elements in ‘the ellipsis
clauses’ than there are for both the clauses of the ‘pre-’ and the ‘post-co-text’. Neither is it the case that
this difference in the number of clause elements is accounted for by the instances of Subject ellipsis
contained within ‘the ellipsis clauses’. For one thing, the clauses of the surrounding co-text contain ten
ellipted clause elements themselves (e.g. (3bii) above). In addition, the average difference, in terms of
numbers of clause elements, between ‘the ellipsis clauses’ and those clauses of the surrounding co-text
across all fourteen examples is in excess of 1 (4.46 – 3.21 = 1.25), and so cannot be explained by Subject
ellipsis alone – even putting aside the not insignificant number of cases of ellipsis also in the clauses of
the surrounding co-text. In sum of this sub-section, the clauses of the surrounding co-text appear more
syntactically complex than ‘the ellipsis clauses’ in terms of the number of clause elements they contain.
Syntactic embedding was described at the end of §3.1 as the depth of syntactic complexity. Let us here
grammar, syntactic units – regularities in form – are said to be composed of functional elements – parts
of the unit defined by the role each plays in that unit. Each general type of syntactic unit (in English:
clause, phrase and word) has its own functional elements. The English clause has the elements: Subject,
Finite, Main Verb, Complement
and Adjunct. Owing to the richness of this area of English grammar,
phrase, adverb phrase and prepositional phrase), each with their own inventory of functional elements
(see, for example, Fawcett, 2000: 306-307). As often noted, present day English does little of its
grammatical work morphologically; the number of functional elements needed to describe the syntactic
unit of word in English are therefore few with syntactic embedding here rare. A case of syntactic
embedding is said to occur, then, when an element of one syntactic unit has, as its form, a unit equal to
or greater than itself on the rank-scale of syntactic units. By ‘rank scale’ is meant a hierarchy of units,
bigger to smaller in typical size. In English, the rank-scale of syntactic units is: clause > phrase > word
typically, a clause is composed of a number of phrases, a phrase of a number of words. In relation to an
clause or another phrase as its form (see below this sub-section for examples). One caveat needs
imposing on this account of syntactic embedding. There are a small number of instances in English where
syntactic embedding is an inevitable consequence of the grammatical environment, rather than being a
free choice of the language user. Noun phrases which function as post-modifiers in prepositional phrases
(e.g. backside in on his backside – see (3dii) below) would constitute just such a grammatical
environment. These and equivalent cases of what may be termed ‘obligatory’ syntactic embedding will
not be included as instances of embedding in the analyses of this section.
As was stressed at the end of §3.1, it is artificial to separate the discussions of the analyses of syntactic
both clauses have three clause elements, but one of these clauses is clearly more syntactically complex
than the other (see below this sub-section) with that complexity furnished as syntactic depth, not breadth
ellipsis as analysed for the number of clause elements in the last sub-section. In the analysis which
follows, non-obligatory embedding of phrases within phrases is marked by enclosure of single square
brackets (e.g. a [fabulous] goal) with non-obligatory embedding of a clause within either another clause
or a phrase being marked by double square brackets (e.g. next [[to take up the baton]]). Given the relation
between syntactic complexity and cognitive-processing (see the start of the last sub-section), the more
Many non-Hallidayan functional models (e.g. Quirk et al., 1985; Biber et al., 1999) distinguish those arguments, Subject
referent already present in the clause (so-called Complements; e.g. a study in frustration in Van Persie's face was a study in
[bewildered] Lorik Cana on his backside,
and poked in a
The three clauses implicated in consecutive Subject ellipsis, (3di) – (3diii), each have a single instance
– all unmodified adjective phrases functioning as pre-modifiers in a noun phrase. In comparison, the three
clauses before those implicated in ellipsis, (3ei) – (3eiii), have three, two and three instances of syntactic
[nearest] marker]] he cantered, unchallenged, into the
and steered the ball
into the [far] corner [of the net].
[exuberant] Ashley Cole,
[[virtually playing as a winger]], was next
[[to take up the
Likewise, for the three clauses following ‘the ellipsis clauses’, (3fi) – (3fiii), there are three, four and four
[of Marton Fulop]
Frank Lampard capitalised on
[[when he slid in Ashley Cole's
[blistering] shot suggested
[[whatever Bruce said at half-time]] was
[[to limit the damage]] ]].
This pattern – that there is notably less syntactic embedding in ‘the ellipsis clauses’ than in the clauses
of the surrounding co-text – is common of all fourteen cases of the phenomenon under discussion. The
average clause of the surrounding co-text has 4.26 cases of syntactic embedding. At 1.42 incidences of
syntactic embedding, the average clause involved in the cases of consecutive Subject ellipsis has far
less syntactic embedding.
As has been shown over the course of the analyses provided in the last two sub-sections, then, the
the amount of syntactic embedding, has revealed results which support the main finding of §3.1; that,
namely, clauses involved in cases of consecutive Subject ellipsis behave markedly and systematically
different to clauses of their surrounding co-text. However, the analyses of this sub-section and the last
are more linguistically sophisticated than the relatively simple clause length in words analysis of §3.1.
occurrence of a final lexicogrammatical feature provides yet further evidence for the claim that
consecutive Subject ellipsis in this data is motivated by the semantics of a quickening of the textual pace.
This analytical comparison is different in kind from those so far discussed in earlier parts of §3. Consider
a third extended textual example from the data:
At that point, there seemed to be only one winner.
How wrong those doubters were as Ferguson's
crashing to the ground after Giggs had supplied the pass that sent him through one-on-on with Almunia.
Rooney went straight for the ball,
(Rooney [S]) put it on the spot
and (Rooney [S]) promptly
sent Almunia the wrong way.
and Van Persie was offered the chance to curl a free-kick at Foster's goal which thudded against
inexplicably headed into his own net.
(Week 4, Daily Star)
In this example, the two clauses containing the successive Subject ellipses (introduced with
and emboldened) have dynamic main verbs
denoting experiences observable to an on-looker as they are manifest outwardly of the body (cf. cognitive
experiences, thinking, feeling, etc.). The main verbs which follow ‘the ellipsis clauses’ in this example
; booked, offered and got) are also all material process-types. However, the
main verbs of those clauses preceding ‘the ellipsis clauses’ is very different, comprised of stative rather
than dynamic verbs: in terms of Halliday’s transitivity categories, seemed to be (introduced with
) is an attributive type of relational; and was (introduced with
) is an
verbs of ‘the ellipsis clauses’ (skipped up, shimmied, fooled and slotted) along with those preceding ‘the
ellipsis clauses’ (allow, got … rolling and exposed) are material in transitivity, but the clauses subsequent
to ‘the ellipsis clauses’ have a different transitivity profile: are is an attributive type of relational; have is a
possessive type of relational; and convinced is mental. This pattern is common to all fourteen cases of
consecutive Subject ellipsis and their surrounding clauses found in the football newspaper reports corpus.
That is, the vast majority of clauses implicated in consecutive Subject ellipsis (79.55%) have material
transitivity. While there are still a predominant number of instances of material transitivity in the clauses
of both the prior (54.76%) and post co-text (56.10%), this is less frequent than the occurrence of material
transitivity in ‘the ellipsis clauses’. Clauses of the prior and post co-text also share a significant frequency
of relational transitivity (28.57% in the prior co-text; 31.71% in the post co-text) and so behave remarkably
similarly in terms of their transitivity just as is the case in terms of their word length (see §3.1 above).
The analytical trends presented in §3.1 – §3.4 establish a marked difference between, on the one hand,
and, on the other, the clauses of their surrounding co-text – doing so in terms of the four
in having few clause elements (§3.2) and less syntactic embedding (§3.3), and are to a larger degree
material in their transitivity (§3.4). Indeed, it should be noted that these patterns are in all likelihood yet
more pointed; the decision to take always and exactly three clauses of the surrounding ‘pre-’ and ‘post-
co-text’ against which to compare ‘the ellipsis clauses’ is arbitrary, designed to facilitate the analysis;
these evidently will not be coterminous with organic rhetorical divisions of text and context (see, for
example, Cloran, 1994; Gregory, 2002; etc.) where changes of temporal kinds, including pace, would be
more naturally located. Regardless, these lexicogrammatical features do appear in a patterned way as
just outlined. Moreover, in slightly different ways they have in common an ability to express time, whether
most obviously by iconic (§3.1 – §3.3) or denotational means (§3.4). For this reason, Clarke (forthcoming)
claims that Subject ellipsis over consecutive clauses is motivated semantically by an intention to express
a quickening of the textual pace. Given that a chief aspect of the social action of football newspaper
reports is discussion of on-field events, this semantic reasoning appears to make good sense and
perhaps explains the statistically significant frequency with which the phenomenon occurs in this data
(see the introduction of §3). Greater support for the semantic sense of ellipsis discussed in Clarke
(forthcoming) would, then, come from observing similar patterns of use of ellipsis in other text-types
whose social action has experiential events associated with a range of paces, including fast ones. Further
empirical work to this end is required. This paper’s particular focus, though, has been a matter of how
qualitative-in-kind, textual analyses which are sensitive to dynamism across local textual environments
can, when combined with statistical inquiry, function as a descriptively powerful method for the linguist
interested in making statements of meaning – an example of Firth’s (1951: 123) famous dictum.
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