I am currently reading Brezina (2018) on Statistics in Corpus Linguistics. I have a hard time trying to decipher what the author means of "company" in this sentence:

Dice and log Dice, and MI2 favour collocates which occur exclusively in each other’s company but do not have to be rare.

I understand that collocates are words that co-occur with a node in a specifically defined span, where node here refers to the word that we want to analyze and span refers to the words that co-occur side-by-sde of a node.

For example, the node "love" has these following collocations in a span of 1L and 1R collocation window:

1L node 1R
my love is
to love you
my love
our love

My current understanding of "company" in this context is the node and collocation pairs in a given corpus, but I might be wrong. Therefore your explanation is very valuable. Thanks!

  • 2
    This doesn’t seem like a special or jargonistic use to me; it’s just how the word company works in English. It’s no different to talking about people who enjoy each other’s company (enjoy being around each other); here it just means words that only appear around (≈ next to) each other. Jan 15 at 12:23
  • Hi @JanusBahsJacquet, so just like my current understanding then. Thanks!
    – pindakazen
    Jan 15 at 12:30
  • company here means environment. collocate just means to occur with. Words occur in an environment. You would not expect "drain pipe" and "baby doll" to collocate.
    – Lambie
    Jan 15 at 17:17

1 Answer 1


The word company is sometimes used in collocation analysis due to a quote by J.R. Firth (1957): "You shall know a word by the company it keeps".

It basically just refers to the context, ie the surrounding words. There is -- to my knowledge -- no specific span given by Firth, ie the extend of the context is not limited to any particular size.

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