Collocational processing in light of the phraseological continuum model: Does semantic transparency matter?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The present study investigates whether two types of word combinations (free combinations and collocations) differ in terms of processing by testing Howarth's Continuum Model based on word combination typologies from a phraseological tradition. A visual semantic judgment task was administered to advanced Swedish learners of English (n = 27) and native English-speaking controls (n = 38). Reaction times and error rates were recorded for free combinations, collocations, and baseline items. There was a processing cost for collocations compared to free combinations, for both groups of participants. This cost likely stems from the semantically semi-transparent nature of collocations as they are defined in the phraseological tradition. Furthermore, phrasal frequency based on corpus values also predicted reaction times. These results lend initial support to the Continuum Model from a processing perspective and suggest that degree of semantic transparency together with phrasal frequency plays an important role in collocational processing.


External organisations
  • Idaho State University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Languages and Literature


  • collocation, free combination, phraseology, advanced learners, second language
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)296-323
Number of pages28
JournalLanguage Learning
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Apr 29
Publication categoryResearch

Related projects

Henrik Gyllstad

Swedish Research Council


Project: ResearchIndividual research project

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