NP-internal functions and extended uses of the ‘type’ nouns kind, sort, and type: towards a comprehensive, corpus-based description

in Corpus Linguistics 25 Years on
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In this paper we investigate the various constructions containing one of the three main type nouns sort, kind and type. Basing ourselves on data from the COBUILD corpus and COLT corpus, we first present a subclassification of the main type noun constructions, which owes a lot to but also expands on Denison (2002) and Aijmer (2002). In comparison with the categories proposed in the current literature, we advocate finer distinctions mainly within the NP-internal uses of type nouns, by positing fundamental structural and semantic distinctions between head uses on the one hand and modifier uses (attributive and semi-suffix) and postdeterminer uses on the other. The subjectified qualifying uses and discourse marker uses of type nouns, by contrast, have been covered rather extensively in the literature. From the existing descriptions we retain the distinction between nominal, adverbial and sentential qualifiers, discourse markers and quotative markers. We then apply this descriptive framework to two British English data sets from opposing registers: written texts from the quality newspaper The Times (COBUILD subcorpus) and spontaneously spoken conversation between teenagers (COLT). The quantification of these analyses reveals strong asymmetries in the relative frequencies of the various type noun uses in the two data sets. While type nouns are used predominantly NP-internally in The Times, adverbial qualifiers and discourse markers predominate in the COLT-data.

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