“Talked the council out of adopting any resolution”: On the transitive out of -ing construction in American English

In: Corpus Linguistics and Variation in English


The transitive out of -ing pattern, as in Duffy talked the council out of adopting any resolution… (COHA), has often been neglected in work on sentential complementation in recent English, but COHA, the new Corpus of Historical American English, affords an excellent opportunity to examine the incidence of the pattern and its syntactic and semantic properties on the basis of a large corpus of recent English. It is observed that the pattern was attested in the nineteenth century, but that its frequency was very low. Larger numbers of tokens are found from about the middle of the twentieth century onwards. It is argued that an analysis of the pattern as a type of the caused motion construction is helpful in explaining its semantics in that it makes it possible to invoke two subevents in analyzing sentences involving the pattern. Two force dynamic schemas are identified for the more specific interpretation of the construction. The analysis of the pattern as a construction is also helpful from a syntactic point of view in that it accounts for the occurrence of the pattern with verbs independently selecting different types of argument structures. For instance, the verb laugh generally occurs with only one argument, but is also attested with out of -ing, as in I was laughed out of giving the place a fair trial(COHA). In this case the construction supplies two of the arguments.


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