This study is an investigation of the very frequent noun PART, with primary focus on its use in three constructions: TAKE part, PLAY [*] part, and PLAY [*] [*] part. The theoretical framework for the study is rooted in John Sinclair's work on linguistic co-selection and extended units of meaning. It has also been influenced by Sinclair's and Stubbs' work on very frequent words and phrases, in particular Sinclair’s article “A Way with Common Words” (1999).
The theoretical chapter gives a presentation of phraseology as a discipline, and its close ties to corpus linguistics. It goes on to present two of Sinclair’s most famous models: his two principles for language production, the idiom principle and the open choice principle (1991), and his model for extended lexical units (1996 and 1998). There is also a section on the debate about units of meaning, and finally, a presentation of some previous investigations into frequent words in English.
In the analysis, lexical profiles of the different phrases with part are created and analysed. Some of the main findings are summed up below:TAKE part almost exclusively occurs with subjects that have human referents. Obligatory situational context in most cases gives a specific meaning to the verb phrase, though the phrase in itself carries very little meaning. PLAY [*] part is realised as three distinct types, two of which are phrasal. In contrast to TAKE part, the phrasal realisations of PLAY [*] part keeps a relatively vague meaning, even in context, which seems to be one of the reasons for its high frequency. PLAY [*] [*] part exemplifies the underutilisation of grammatical options discussed in chapter 2; a single sequence, an expansion of PLAY a part, makes up 90 per cent of the sample.