Draft:Two-word terms

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This image contains two Australopithecus afarensis footprints. Australopithecus afarensis is a hominin. Credit: Tim Evanson.

"The compound two-word term is employed to give more precision than either word alone would have, not being exact synonyms. And each word indicates the sense in which the other is used."[1] Bold added.

The image at right is part of human history. And, human history is a two-word term.


These two hemispheric Lambert azimuthal equal area projections show the total magnetic field strength at the surface of the Moon, derived from the Lunar Prospector electron reflectometer (ER) experiment. Credit: Mark A. Wieczorek.

“[T]he main goal of terminology is not to represent concepts in order to manipulate them (as in artificial intelligence) but to define a common vocabulary we hope is consensual.”[2] Bold added.

It should be possible to take an apparent term, especially a likely cultural, technical or scientific term, and locate its domain, etymology, lexicography, and pragmatics.



  1. "[a] distinct unit of language (sounds in speech or written letters) with a particular meaning, composed of one or more morphemes, and also of one or more phonemes that determine its sound pattern",[3]
  2. "[a]ny sequence of letters or characters considered as a discrete entity",[3] or
  3. "[d]ifferent symbols, written or spoken, arranged together in a unique sequence that approximates a thought in a person's mind"[3]

is called a word.

"In English and other space-delimited languages, it is customary to treat "word" as referring to any sequence of characters delimited by spaces. However, this is not applicable to languages such as Chinese and Japanese, which are normally written without spaces, or to languages such as Vietnamese, which are written with a space between each syllable."[3]

Def. "words which are not found in a dictionary",[4] are called out-of-vocabulary words.


Def. a "word or phrase, especially one from a specialised area of knowledge",[5] or "a well-defined word or phrase"[5] is called a term.

Term filtering[edit]

"Two-word terms [are] determined not to be of interest in the context of the whole document collection either because they do not occur frequently enough or because they occur in a constant distribution among different documents [deviation-based approach]."[6]

Constant frequency[edit]

In Google scholar searches, "credit card" may appear more often associated with articles than "net income", for example, because of the common occurrence of the sentence "The only accepted payment is by credit card." with regard to purchasing a copy of the article or book.

Significant variations[edit]

The statistical significance approach "is to test whether the variation of the relative frequency of a given term t in the document collection is statistically significant."[6]

Term relevance[edit]

"The notion of term relevance with respect to a document collection is [determined by assigning] each term its score based on maximal tf-idf (term frequency - inverse document frequency, maximal with respect to all the documents in the collection) [information retrieval approach]."[6] For example, "net income" received a score of 17.17, but "big bank" received only 5.39 [which is above the irrelevance cutoff].[6] "Credit card" did not make the cutoff.[6]

Depending on the meaning of "big bank", it may be a relative synonym for "dominant group". "Big" may suggest "important" (one of its synonyms) and a "bank" might be considered an "assemblage" (also a synonym), although the two words taken individually have more popular meanings.

Biological adults[edit]

"Although few or no established dictionaries provide a definition for the two word term biological adult, the first definition of adult in multiple dictionaries includes "the stage of the life cycle of an animal after reproductive capacity has been attained".[7][8] Thus, the base definition of the word adult is the period beginning at puberty. Although this is the primary definition of the base word adult, the two word term biological adult stresses or clarifies that the original definition, based on the beginning of puberty, is being used (that is, the organism has matured to the biologically important point of being able to reproduce)."[9]

Legal adults[edit]

"[A] legal adult is a legal concept for a person who has attained the age of majority and is therefore regarded as independent, self-sufficient, and responsible (contrast with "minor")."[9]


"[T]wo-word glossary items are the most common technical terms".[4]

"Human use is supported by published glossaries, on-line glossary reference tools, and authoring environments that use glossaries to enable or enforce terminological consistency."[4]

"[M]ost technical jargon is not likely to be included in a general-purpose dictionary."[4]


"In corpus linguistics, collocation defines a sequence of words or terms that co-occur more often than would be expected by chance. In phraseology, collocation is a sub-type of phraseme. An example of a phraseological collocation (from Michael Halliday[10]) is the expression strong tea. While the same meaning could be conveyed by the roughly equivalent powerful tea, this expression is considered incorrect by English speakers. Conversely, the corresponding expression for computer, powerful computers is preferred over strong computers. Phraseological collocations should not be confused with idioms although both are similar in that there is a degree of meaning present in the collocation or idiom that is not entirely compositional. With idioms, the meaning is completely non-compositional whereas collocations are mostly compositional."[11]

Substitution restrictions[edit]

"We can say highly sophisticated, and we can say extremely happy. Both adverbs have the same lexical functions, that is adding the degree, or magnifying the impact of the adjectives (sophisticated, happy), However, they are not interchangeable. Still, other adverbs, such as very can replace both highly and extremely."[12].

Modified syntaxes[edit]

"Unlike the majority of idioms, collocations are subject to syntactic modification. For example, we can say effective writing and write effectively."[12].

Compound nouns[edit]

"Some words are often found together because they make up a compound noun, for example 'riding boots' or 'motor cyclist'."[12].

Syntactic relations[edit]

"Collocations can be in a syntactic relation"[11].

Lexical relations[edit]

The "lexical relation" can be antonymy, or "in no linguistically defined relation."[11].

Key words[edit]

A collocation may be "a Key Word in Context ([Key Word in Context] KWIC)"[11].

"A key-word is a single word with high frequency over the set of Web pages, and a key-term is a two-word term with very high frequency."[13]

Collocation processing[edit]

"The processing of collocations involves a number of parameters, the most important of which is the measure of association, which evaluates whether the co-occurrence is purely by chance or statistically significant. Due to the non-random nature of language, most collocations are classed as significant, and the association scores are simply used to rank the results. Commonly used measures of association include mutual information, [Student's t-test] t scores, and log-likelihood.[14]"[11]

Collocation definitions[edit]

"Rather than select a single definition, Gledhill[15] proposes that collocation involves at least three different perspectives: (i) cooccurrence, a statistical view, which sees collocation as the recurrent appearance in a text of a node and its collocates,[16][17][18] (ii) construction, which sees collocation either as a correlation between a lexeme and a lexical-grammatical pattern,[19] or as a relation between a base and its collocative partners[20] and (iii) expression, a pragmatic view of collocation as a conventional unit of expression, regardless of form.[21][22] It should be pointed out here that these different perspectives contrast with the usual way of presenting collocation in phraseological studies. Traditionally speaking, collocation is explained in terms of all three perspectives at once, in a continuum:

‘Free Combination’ ↔ ‘Bound Collocation’ ↔ ‘Frozen Idiom’"[11].

Color term[edit]

RBG color wheel.svg

A color term (or color name) is a word or phrase that refers to a specific color. The color term may refer to human perception of that color (which is affected by visual context) which is usually defined according to the Munsell color system, or to an underlying physical property (such as a specific wavelength of visible light). There are also numerical systems of color specification, referred to as color spaces.

An important distinction must be established between color and shape, these two attributes usually are used in conjunction with one another when describing in language. For example, being labeled as alternative parts of speech terms color term and shape term.[23]

Monolexemic color words are composed of individual lexemes, or root words, such as "red", "brown", or "olive". Compound color words make use of adjectives (e.g. "light brown", "sea green") or compounded basic color words (e.g. "yellow-green").

There are many different dimensions by which color varies. For example, hue]] (shades of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple), saturation ("deep" vs. "pale"), and brightness or intensity make up the HSI color space. The adjective "fluorescent" in English refers to moderately high brightness with strong color saturation. Pastel refers to colors with high brightness and low saturation.

Some phenomena are due to related optical effects, but may or may not be described separately from the color name. These include gloss (high-gloss shades are sometimes described as "metallic"; this is also a distinguishing feature of gold and silver), iridescence or goniochromism (angle-dependent color), dichroism (two-color surfaces), and opacity (solid vs. translucent).

Languages are selective when deciding which hues are split into different colors on the basis of how light or dark they are. English splits some hues into several distinct colors according to lightness: such as red and pink or orange and brown. To English speakers, these pairs of colors, which are objectively no more different from one another than light green and dark green, are conceived of as belonging to different categories.[24] A Russian will make the same red / pink and orange / brown distinctions, but will also make a further distinction between sinii and goluboi, which English speakers would simply call dark and light blue. To Russian speakers, sinii and goluboi are as separate as red and pink, or orange and brown.[25]

The Ova-Himba have a perception of colors.[26] The Ova-Himba use four color names: zuzu stands for dark shades of blue, red, green, and purple; vapa is white and some shades of yellow; buru is some shades of green and blue; and dambu is some other shades of green, red, and brown. It is thought that this may [be the Stroop effect] increase the time it takes for the Ova-Himba to distinguish between two colors that fall under the same Herero color category, compared to people whose language separates the colors into two different color categories.[27]

White fish[edit]

This is a whitefish, Aland (Leuciscus idus). Credit: C. Gerharz.

Whitefish or white fish is a fisheries term for several species of demersal fish with fins, particularly Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), Caspian kutum (Rutilus kutum),[28] whiting (Merluccius bilinearis), and haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus), but also hake (Urophycis), pollock (Pollachius), or others.[29]

"Whitefish (Coregonidae) is also the name of several species of Atlantic freshwater fish, so the use of the two-word term 'white fish' is less misleading."[30]

Nonce words[edit]

A nonce word (also called an occasionalism) is a lexeme created for a single occasion to solve an immediate problem of communication.[31][32]

The term is used because such a word is created "for the nonce".[32] All nonce words are also neologisms.[33] The term nonce word was apparently the creation of James Murray, the influential editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, March 2014.

Examples of nonce words include:

  • Fluddle, a word reported by David Crystal which he understood to mean a water spillage between a puddle and a flood, invented by the speaker because no suitable word existed. Crystal speculated in 1995 that it might enter the English language if it proved popular.[32]
  • The Bouba/kiki_effect, Bouba and kiki, used to demonstrate a connection between the sound of words and their meaning.
  • Grok – coined by Robert Heinlein in Stranger in a Strange Land, and now almost mainstreamed.
  • The poem "Jabberwocky" is full of nonce words, with only one, chortle, becoming a word in common use.
  • The novel Finnegans Wake used the word quark as a nonce word. Physicist Murray Gell-Mann adopted this word as the name of a subatomic particle.


  1. Dominant group connects a group with dominance.

See also[edit]


  1. Robert I. Coulter (1954). "Typewritten Library Manuscripts are not Printed Publications". Journal of the Patent Office Society 36: 258. http://heinonlinebackup.com/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/jpatos36&section=44. Retrieved 2012-06-21. 
  2. Christophe Roche, Marie Calberg-Challot, Luc Damas, Philippe Rouard (October 2009). Herold, A., Hicks, A., Rigau, G., & Laparra, E.. ed. Ontoterminology: A new paradigm for terminology, In: International Conference on Knowledge Engineering and Ontology Development. Madeira, Portugal. http://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00622132/. Retrieved 2012-03-21. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "word, In: Wiktionary". San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. June 15, 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-16.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Youngja Park, Roy J Byrd and Branimir Boguraev (2002). Automatic Glossary Extraction: Beyond Terminology Identification, In: "Proceedings of the Nineteenth International Conference on Computational Linguistics" (PDF). Morristown, New Jersey. pp. 772–8. Retrieved 2012-03-05.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "term, In: Wiktionary". San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. June 10, 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-16.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Ronen Feldman, Moshe Fresko, Yakkov Kinar, Yehuda Lindell, Orly Liphstat, Martin Rajman, Yonatan Schler and Oren Zamir (1998). "Text mining at the term level". Principles of Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery Lecture Notes in Computer Science 1510 (1998): 65-73. doi:10.1007/BFb0094806. http://www.fmt.vein.hu/softcomp/dw/egyeni/textmining/irodalom/Feldmanetal98a.pdf. Retrieved 2012-03-05. 
  7. International Dictionary of Medicine and Biology (1986)
  8. Churchill’s Medical Dictionary (1989)
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Adult, In: Wikipedia". San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. June 20, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-21.
  10. Halliday, M.A.K., 'Lexis as a Linguistic Level', Journal of Linguistics 2(1) 1966: 57-67
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 "Collocation, In: Wikipedia". San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. May 13, 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-14.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 "Collocation, In: Wikipedia". San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. May 13, 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-14.
  13. Yongzheng Zhang, Nur Zincir-Heywood, Evangelos Milios (2004). "World Wide Web site summarization". Web Intelligence and Agent Systems 2 (1): 39-53. http://iospress.metapress.com/content/efb6dxqpwfpe21k3/. Retrieved 2012-06-21. 
  14. Dunning, T. (1993): "Accurate methods for the statistics of surprise and coincidence". Computational Linguistics 19, 1 (Mar. 1993), 61-74.
  15. Gledhill C. (2000): Collocations in Science Writing, Narr, Tübingen
  16. Firth J.R. (1957): Papers in Linguistics 1934–1951. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  17. Sinclair J. (1996): “The Search for Units of Meaning”, in Textus, IX, 75–106.
  18. Smadja F. A & McKeown, K. R. (1990): “Automatically extracting and representing collocations for language generation”, Proceedings of ACL’90, 252–259, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
  19. Hunston S. & Francis G. (2000): Pattern Grammar — A Corpus-Driven Approach to the Lexical Grammar of English, Amsterdam, John Benjamins
  20. Hausmann F. J. (1989): Le dictionnaire de collocations. In Hausmann F.J., Reichmann O., Wiegand H.E., Zgusta L.(eds), Wörterbücher : ein internationales Handbuch zur Lexicographie. Dictionaries. Dictionnaires. Berlin/New-York : De Gruyter. 1010-1019.
  21. Moon R. (1998): Fixed Expressions and Idioms, a Corpus-Based Approach. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
  22. Frath P. & Gledhill C. (2005): “Free-Range Clusters or Frozen Chunks? Reference as a Defining Criterion for Linguistic Units,” in Recherches anglaises et Nord-américaines, vol. 38 :25–43
  23. Davidoff, Jules (1997). Color Categories in Thought and Language; "The neuropsychology of color". Cambridge, England: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge. pp. 118–120. ISBN 9780521498005.
  24. Brent Berlin and Paul Kay (1969). Basic Color Terms: Their Universality and Evolution.
  25. Seeing the blues.
  26. Roberson, Debi; Davidoff, Jules; Davies, Ian R.L.; Shapiro, Laura R. Colour Categories and Category Acquisition in Himba and English. University of Essex. Retrieved 2012-05-28.
  27. Reiger, Terry; Kay, Paul (28 August 2009). "Language, thought, and color: Whorf was half right". Trends in Cognitive Sciences 13: 439–446. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2009.07.001. PMID 19716754. http://www1.icsi.berkeley.edu/~kay/tics2.pdf. Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  28. Ghasemi, M; Zamani, H; Hosseini, SM; Haghighi Karsidani, S; Bergmann, SM. "Caspian White Fish (Rutilus frisii kutum) as a host for Spring Viraemia of Carp Virus". Vet Microbiol 170: 408-13. doi:10.1016/j.vetmic.2014.02.032. PMID 24685241. 
  29. Whitefish (fisheries term). San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 14 September 2018. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  30. D R Farquhar (21 October 2010). Whitefish (fisheries term). San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  31. Nonce Word, In: Cambridge Dictionaries Online. 2011. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 The Cambridge Encyclopedia of The English Language. Ed. David Crystal. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. ISBN 0521401798
  33. Malmkjaer, Kirsten. (Ed.) (2006) The Linguistics Encyclopedia. eBook edition. London & New York: Routledge, p. 601. ISBN 0-203-43286-X

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

{{Radiation astronomy resources}}{{Dominant group}}{{Gene project}}{{Geology resources}}{{Linguistics resources}}{{Repellor vehicle}}{{Semantics resources}}

{{Universal translator}}