Do philologists have a single word to refer to grammatical constructions such as all the more since or as long as, or is 'grammatical construction' the most compact way to refer to those kinds of structures?

This is going to sound a bit vague, but what I'm referring to is unchangeable combinations of words that do some heavy grammatical lifting within a sentence. Please don't laugh.

  • I think phrases like as long as might be called 'complex subordinating conjunctions'. – TRomano Feb 4 '19 at 11:25
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    The usual term is 'prepositional idiom'. I'd call "as long as" a compound preposition that has the comparative meaning of "provided", as in "I'll do it as long as / provided you pay me". Note that "as" and "provided" are prepositions. – BillJ Feb 4 '19 at 12:07
  • Huddleston says of as long as something like "it's obviously not a comparative construction" but I would agree with you that it means "to the extent that" and does have a comparative sense. I wouldn't call the second as a preposition, however. – TRomano Feb 4 '19 at 13:33
  • Note that nobody has had anything to say about all the more since. This is because it's not a constituent. It's two constituents jammed together. All the more has to do with some quantification in the previous clause, while since is an ordinary conjunction introducing the next clause. They don't belong together just because one refers back and the other forward. – John Lawler Feb 4 '19 at 16:26

so (or as) long as TFD an idiom

  • Considering the fact that; seeing as; because.

  • If it is the case that; provided that.

  • For the amount of time that (is stipulated).

Its use is that of a conjunction.

As in: OED

1953 A. L. Rowse Diary 23 Oct. (2003) Always a public humiliation so long as I can remember.

  • I think compound preposition is a better analysis, where the meaning is "provided" (also a preposition). – BillJ Feb 4 '19 at 17:27

Thank you very much for your answers, everyone.

After a bit more research, to the existing answers I'd like to add the word LOCUTION.

  • the third definition of OED fits fairly well: a form of expression or phraseology; a phrase, expression.
  • I realize it's not entirely relevant, but one of the definitions of the Spanish word locución fits exactly what I was trying to convey (see entry #3 in the DLE of the RAE).

That being said, I see how from a grammatical standpoint locution can be seen as a catch-all that covers too many kinds of structures. It might need to be qualified (a certain kind of locution).

  • Well, you asked specifically about "all the more since" or "as long as". They are idioms, since their meaning is not derivable form the meanings of the individual words. Btw, note J Lawler's comment about "all the more since" not being a constituent. – BillJ Feb 6 '19 at 8:59

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