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Constructional variation and change in N-is focaliser constructions


Hundt, Marianne (2022). Constructional variation and change in N-is focaliser constructions. In: Sommerer, Lotte; Keizer, Evelien. English Noun Phrases from a Functional-Cognitive Perspective : Current issues. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 206-233.

Abstract

This paper revisits the emergence of N-is focaliser constructions. It is the first to systematically use qualitative evidence from the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and Early English Books Online (EEBO) to establish the chronology of developments from a full clause to a parenthetical. In a second step, diachronic evidence from the Late Modern English Corpus of Historical American English (COHA) is used for a quantitative, variationist study of constructional change in the Late Modern period. The relevant stages for this are determined in a bottom-up fashion, using Variability-based Neighbour Clustering (VNC). Multivariate statistical modelling is then applied to model the relative importance of predictor variables for the degree of syntactic integration. The chronological data from the OED and EEBO provide evidence of lexical diffusion from truth is and various other shell nouns to problem is. COHA data further show N-is focalisers to be spreading in discourse frequency. The variationist evidence shows that punctuation is not the most important predictor variable throughout and that it interacts in interesting ways with other predictors. Finally, relatively minor (i.e. numerically infrequent) but conceptually salient changes (such as article omission) are taken to contribute to further constructionalisation.

Abstract

This paper revisits the emergence of N-is focaliser constructions. It is the first to systematically use qualitative evidence from the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and Early English Books Online (EEBO) to establish the chronology of developments from a full clause to a parenthetical. In a second step, diachronic evidence from the Late Modern English Corpus of Historical American English (COHA) is used for a quantitative, variationist study of constructional change in the Late Modern period. The relevant stages for this are determined in a bottom-up fashion, using Variability-based Neighbour Clustering (VNC). Multivariate statistical modelling is then applied to model the relative importance of predictor variables for the degree of syntactic integration. The chronological data from the OED and EEBO provide evidence of lexical diffusion from truth is and various other shell nouns to problem is. COHA data further show N-is focalisers to be spreading in discourse frequency. The variationist evidence shows that punctuation is not the most important predictor variable throughout and that it interacts in interesting ways with other predictors. Finally, relatively minor (i.e. numerically infrequent) but conceptually salient changes (such as article omission) are taken to contribute to further constructionalisation.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > English Department
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Computational Linguistics
06 Faculty of Arts > Zurich Center for Linguistics
Dewey Decimal Classification:820 English & Old English literatures
Language:English
Date:January 2022
Deposited On:11 Jan 2022 06:21
Last Modified:29 Apr 2022 07:14
Publisher:John Benjamins Publishing Company
Series Name:Studies in Language Companion Series
Number:221
ISSN:0165-7763
ISBN:9789027210173
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1075/slcs.221.06hun

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