Rule and Construction: The Transitivity of Resultatives in English

In: Cognitive Semantics
Author: Yuzhi Shi 1
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  • 1 National University of Singapore, Singapore

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The resultative construction has been one of the focuses in exploring the interfaces between semantics and syntax. In the generativist tradition, constructions are regarded as the surface structures that are generated by a set of phrasal rules. In cognitive linguistics, especially the approach of construction grammar, constructions are viewed as the fixed pairings of forms and meanings that are regarded as symbolic like lexical items. This article argues that constructions are schemas determined by certain rules, and a set of subconstructions may be produced by a base construction. The article shows that the transitivity of the resultative construction is governed by the semantic relationship between the verb and the resultative phrase, which in turn determines concrete syntactic configurations. Grammar constructions consisting of two or more elements are essentially different from those atomic lexical items, a point distinguishing my analysis from construction grammar. Without the assumption of any underlying structures, unlike the generativist model, this article uncovers the surface rules that determine concrete constructions.

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