Marie-Luise Pitzl, University of Vienna

Marie-Luise Pitzl is a researcher for the Vienna-Oxford International Corpus of English (VOICE) and a lecturer at the English Department at the University of Vienna. She is currently completing her PhD thesis on creativity, metaphoricity and the use of idioms in ELF. Her research interests include resolving miscommunication in ELF business contexts (2005, 2010) and she has published (together with other VOICE Team members) on ELF corpus building (2006, 2009), ELF in Europe (2006), and lexical innovations in ELF (2008).


Creativity meets convention: idiom variation and metaphoricity in ELF

At a time when an increasing number of Descriptions of ELF (the title of this panel) are becoming available, there are three general observations about ELF which can be found in many studies: the variability and situational adaptability of linguistic forms, the interrelation of forms and functions, and the importance of pragmatic strategies. Building on and supporting these emergent findings, this paper addresses the role of creativity in ELF in relation to what might be considered a conventional – and hence essentially ‘un-creative’ – phenomenon, namely the use of idioms.
Focusing on instances of idiom variation, I will present examples from VOICE and explore the relationship between conventional idioms on the one hand and creativity, metaphoricity and compositionality on the other hand. The analysis provides an overview of different forms of idiom variation, but also considers the discourse functions of ‘creative idioms’ in different ELF contexts.

The paper also briefly addresses questions of methodology and exemplifies how work on ELF with VOICE requires a shift of perspectives from traditional (ENL) frameworks to those more suited to the study of ELF, which involve the merging of corpus linguistic and discourse analytic approaches to description.


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