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Explain Me This: Creativity, Competition, and the Partial Productivity of Constructions

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... Some approaches argue that the verb plays a crucial role as a determinant of sentence meaning, claiming that a verb's lexical aspects, including its meaning, valency information, and frequency, license the use of the verb in particular structural configurations, guiding the speaker's interpretation of the sentence (Fillmore 1990;Levin & Rappaport Hovav 2005;Pinker 1989). Other approaches place greater emphasis on the interactive roles of verbs and argument structure constructions (i.e., a clause-level form-meaning pairing; Goldberg 1995) rather than the verb alone, maintaining that speakers note probabilistic tendencies of verbs appearing in a certain argument structure construction and assess their compatibility with a sentence (Ambridge et al. 2008;Boyd & Goldberg 2011;Goldberg 1995Goldberg , 2019. ...
... For instance, English speakers know that sentence (1a) is acceptable, but sentence (1b) is not, although the latter is syntactically and semantically plausible. Such partial productivity has been typically discussed in terms of a speaker's ability to extract statistical regularities from the language input (Ambridge et al. 2008;Goldberg 1995Goldberg , 2019Robenalt & Goldberg 2015), yet there is no general agreement about which aspects of language input contribute to the speaker's sensitivity to verb usage in a syntactic context. ...
... Building on the main premise of the lexical approach, some accounts -particularly those couched within the usage-based constructionist approach -propose that speakers are not merely sensitive to verb frequency, but that they also induce probabilistic tendencies of a verb combining with a certain argument structure construction (Ambridge et al. 2008;Boyd & Goldberg 2011;Braine & Brooks 1995;Goldberg 1995Goldberg , 2019. Extending the idea of the lexical approach, the constructionist approach assumes that, along with a verb, an argument structure construction, defined as a clause unit carrying its own form and meaning (Goldberg 1995), concurrently contributes to the overall sentence meaning. ...
Article
Two theoretical viewpoints provide different explanations about how people extract statistical regularities from input to assess the felicity of verb usage in a sentence. The lexical approach emphasizes the role of verb frequency in determining a verb’s distributional bias within a sentence, whereas the entrenchment hypothesis highlights the conjoined roles of the frequency information from both a verb and an argument structure construction. The present study tests these accounts by investigating Korean speakers’ interpretation of two dative patterns in Korean (Dative–Accusative and Accusative–Accusative). Through the analysis of a large-scale corpus, we calculated the frequency of each dative pattern as well as the frequency of dative verbs occurring therein. Using this information, we conducted an acceptability judgment task with Korean speakers by manipulating the dative type and the verb frequency. The results showed that the speakers’ acceptability rating behavior was affected by the interaction between the verb and construction frequency such that highly entrenched verb–construction combinations were evaluated to be more acceptable. Our finding supports the entrenchment hypothesis that emphasizes the conjoined roles of usage frequency of verbs and constructions in sentence comprehension.
... Segons aquesta aproximació a la productivitat, no totes les instàncies d'un patró contribueixen de la mateixa manera a la consolidació d'un esquema (Bybee 1995: 434): una alta freqüència type contribueix a la productivitat, mentre que una alta freqüència token minva la productivitat a partir de la consolidació que comporta la repetició d'un mateix patró, tenint en compte que l'estructura interna no es pot analitzar (cf. Bybee 1985Bybee , 1995Goldberg 2006Goldberg , 2019. ...
... Contrary to rule-based grammars, Construction Grammar advocates that arbitrary pairings of form and function are not only useful as mechanisms for the description of language, but all levels of grammatical description are made up of such pairings of form and function, that is, of constructions (Goldberg 2003(Goldberg , 2006(Goldberg , 2019. The conventionalized form-meaning pairing, which is an extended notion of Saussure's linguistic sign, comprises morphemes, words and idioms, as well as abstract grammatical patterns, and hence constructions have different degrees of complexity. ...
... An important notion which is intrinsically related to the productivity of a construction is coverage (Goldberg 2006(Goldberg , 2019, which determines that speakers are more confident in generalizing a property to a new instance insofar as this new instance fits into the category. As Suttle (2011: 1254) claim, "coverage is high if the target coinage falls within a dense neighborhood; coverage is low if the space defined by the coinage together with the attested instances is mostly empty". ...
Thesis
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Phraseology and Construction Grammar have many interests in common, which is not surprising since first construction-based studies focused on idiomatic expressions (cf. Fillmore, Kay and O’Connor 1988; Kay and Fillmore 1999). The main aim is to analyse variation and creativity of intensifying comparative constructions of ugliness in Catalan, Spanish, English, and French adopting an inductive methodology based on corpora from the Sketch Engine software. Following a usage-based constructionist approach, we conduct an intra- and interlinguistic analysis on the entrenchment of constructions, semantic variants of meaning, as well as productivity by means of type frequency and those occurrences with low token frequency (hapax legomena) and creativity according to analogical extensions and constructional contamination.
... Research on language acquisition (Goldberg, 2019;Krashen, 2003;Tomasello, 2003) suggests that humans acquire language incrementally from experience. An artificial agent that can learn more language as it interacts with a human collaborator can collaborate better in the future. ...
... Phase 2 applies once a new construction has been hypothesized. The new construction is compared to others already saved as declarative knowledge, which, if we follow Goldberg's (2019) theory, would be stored as clusters of previous episodes along with an abstraction over that cluster stored as declarative knowledge. If the new construction is similar to an existing cluster, it is added to that cluster. ...
... Otherwise, a new cluster is created for it. Using the processes of entrenchment and competition (Goldberg, 2019;Tomasello, 2003), over many episodes a commonly used construction becomes more and more solidly entrenched, becoming declarative knowledge in our model. Tomasello (2003, p. 139) further describes a sequence of more and more abstract stages of children's understanding of specific linguistic forms. ...
Thesis
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AI systems with language for robots don’t try to model human processing. Psycholinguistic models of human language processing don’t have operational computational models. To solve these problems, this thesis contributes to progress in answering two interlocking scientific questions: how does the human mind do sentence comprehension, and how can we enable artificial agents to use natural language to collaborate with humans. We do this with a system called Lucia, which is a computational cognitive model of human sentence comprehension that works by constructing the meaning of a sentence piece by piece. The Lucia model is designed according to five overriding qualitative principles of human language comprehension. To show that its results are useful, it does embodied, end-to-end comprehension (E3C) within an artificial agent called Rosie. To model key characteristics of human comprehension, it draws on research in cognitive linguistics, psycholinguistics, artificial intelligence, and robotics to: represent composable knowledge of the meaning of linguistic forms (CKM), do incremental, immediate interpretation processing (I3P), and do it using general cognitive mechanisms (GCM). The model leads to a theory of language acquisition from experience (LAE), some parts of which have been implemented experimentally. To conform to these principles, the Lucia model is implemented in a robotic agent called Rosie to do E3C. It uses Embodied Construction Grammar (ECG) as its method of representing composable knowledge of meaning (CKM), and demonstrates that this knowledge can be processed incrementally (I3P) using a novel comprehension algorithm that relies on the general cognitive mechanisms (GCM) of the Soar cognitive architecture to produce embodied, end-to-end comprehension (E3C). Lucia makes several contributions to answering the broader scientific questions. It provides a novel theory for incremental processing (I3P) based on a three-phase construction cycle. It provides a theory of how memories interact during comprehension. It demonstrates grounded comprehension in an embodied robotic agent. Finally, it provides a detailed, functional model of cognitive E3C processing that can serve as a basis for further research in modeling human language processing in the brain and in designing larger-scale language models for artificial agents.
... Results from linguistic studies can provide a scientific basis for creating specialised teaching materials. Linguists have identified the optimal frequency distribution of fillers of a construction for acquisition, the so-called coverage of a construction(Goldberg 2019). This knowledge, in tandem with target language and L1 specific factors of the construction in question, could enhance the effectiveness of language teaching. ...
Preprint
This paper discusses the use of second language structures, particularly the use of interrogatives, as it can be understood in a construction grammar framework (cf. Goldberg 2003, Goldberg et al. 2004, Ellis and Cadierno 2009). It builds on previous research in first and second language acquisition, as well as Höder's proposed "Diasystematic Construction Grammar" (cf. Höder 2018, Höder et al. 2021). Moreover, the paper addresses the role of language acquisition theories in the context of language teaching and teacher training. Since teachers' knowledge is acquired in teacher education, language acquisition theories and their implications should be a fundamental part of their education. The case study is looking at the knowledge and use of interrogative constructions by learners of English. For this purpose, I analysed the language of learners in three German schools (age = 11-14, n = 100). The results of the analysis are then applied to a dynamic network approach (cf. Diessel 2019, 2020) to teaching English interrogative constructions. This means that the architecture of an emerging multilingual construct-icon is taken into consideration. This article focusses on learners of English with one particular L1 (German). It outlines a framework for teaching English constructions and their fillers that is based on language use as observed in a corpus.
... Moreover, have argued that priming effects may be additive, with stronger priming effects emerging between sentences that share several formal and/or functional properties than between sentences that overlap only on a single dimension. This aligns naturally with a cognitive-linguistic view of constructional relations as multi-dimensional and gradient in strength (Goldberg 2019;Trijp 2020). 2 2 Another relevant aspect that can be informed by structural priming is the question of how similarities between abstract constructions are influenced by the specific lexical material of their slot fillers. For example, previous studies have illustrated that priming is stronger when primes and targets contain the same verb, the so-called 'lexical boost' effect (Pickering and Branigan 1998), which potentially suggests that speakers activate verb-specific subconstructions in addition to the abstract schemas they instantiate (see Ungerer [2022] for a discussion of this and other interpretations of the lexical boost). ...
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Structural priming is a promising tool for testing similarity relations between constructions, but its applicability to larger-scale models of constructional networks is still limited. This article outlines the following two limitations of previous priming studies: first, they largely focus on priming between alternating constructions; and second, they often test the relations between instances of the same construction rather than between instances of different constructions. Three strategies are suggested for how future priming research could overcome these limitations. Concrete ideas for experimental setups are presented, and their benefits and limitations are addressed.
... El presente trabajo 1 se enmarca en el proyecto de investigación CONSTRIDIOMS (Las construcciones fraseológicas del alemán y el español en contraste a través de los corpus, FFI2019-108783RB-100), llevado a cabo por el grupo de investigación FRA-SESPAL. A través del marco teórico de la Gramática de Construcciones, con especial atención a su vertiente cognitiva basada en el uso (Goldberg 1995(Goldberg , 2006(Goldberg , 2019, el principal objetivo es el estudio de las construcciones fraseológicas en alemán y español, un tipo de construcción caracterizada por su naturaleza semiesquemática con ítems léxicos saturados léxicamente y slots que se actualizan en el discurso (véase Mellado Blanco 2021), por lo que se sitúan a medio camino dentro del contínuum léxico-gramática. ...
Chapter
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This paper focuses on morpho-syntactically and semantically-pragmatically similar constructions that can be described as a family of constructions within the framework of Construction Grammar. These are described as constructional idioms in which a preposition and an adjective are lexically specified, while three slots are lexically open, with semantic restrictions. The aim is to describe these similarly behaving constructions in a two-dimensional network. Using the esTenTen18 corpus (Sketch Engine), this study intends on carrying out an in-depth analysis of the semantics restrictions of these slots paying close attention to their productivity by means of their type frequency and hapax legomena.
... Because of such roles, a verb has long been recognized as a reliable indicator of sentence meaning (Healy and Miller 1970). However, recent studies suggest that comprehenders also derive a sentence meaning by relying on the information of an argument structure construction (e.g., Ambridge et al. 2008;Bencini and Goldberg 2000;Goldberg 1995Goldberg , 2006Goldberg , 2019Kako 2006). An argument structure construction is defined as a clause that bears a form and a meaning in its own right (Goldberg 1995). ...
Article
This study investigated the role of cross-linguistic influence in L2 learners' integration of a verb and a construction during online English sentence processing. In a self-paced reading task, L1-English speakers and Chinese-L1 learners of English read the English double-object and prepositional dative constructions with verbs whose Chinese translation equivalents are either compatible or incompatible with each dative form. When including only a subset of trials for which participants provided expected translations for the target sentences (i.e., translating the English prepositional dative construction into a Chinese prepositional dative sentence and translating the English double-object construction into a Chinese double-object sentence), the effect of cross-linguistic influence emerged only in a certain type of verbs. When including all trials in the analysis, we found the effect of cross-linguistic influence for all verb types. These results provide some evidence that the cross-linguistic activation of verbs can influence verb-construction integration in L2 processing. The study highlights how bilingual co-activation of verbs extends beyond the lexical and structural levels to influence the integration of multiple sources of information.
... According to Goldberg (2019), language users consider creative (novel) uses "wrong" when there exists a conventional (expected) alternative way to express the same meaning, because they tend to view language normatively: naïve speakers consider there to be "right" ways to use language (cf. one of our participants asked us to send her the 'correct' past participles after she finished the verb production task, so that she could compare her answers to the "correct" ones). ...
Article
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The current study investigates how native speakers of a morphologically complex language (Finnish) handle uncertainty related to linguistic forms that have gaps in their inflectional paradigms. We analyze their strategies of dealing with paradigmatic defectivity and how these strategies are motivated by subjective contemporaneousness, frequency, acceptability, and other lexical and structural characteristics of words. We administered a verb production (inflection) task with Finnish native speakers using verbs from a small non-productive inflectional type that has many paradigmatic gaps and asked participants to inflect the verbs in a given context. Inflectional uncertainty was measured by the number of different forms the participants produced for each verb. We classified produced forms that were not expected as either synonymous or novel and measured their optimal string alignment distance to expected forms. Our analyses revealed that a usage-based approach to paradigmatic defectivity fits better with the obtained results than a classical approach typically met in dictionaries and descriptive grammars. Thus, we argue, that paradigmatic defectivity can be better described as a dynamic rather than a static system, where gaps represent a continuum of possible inflectional choices rather than a lack of an inflectional variant.
... An integral part of language production is working memory (Martin & Slevc, 2014), which we define as the active manipulation and maintenance of goal-relevant information while avoiding interference from longterm memory and/or previously relevant information. Since the statistical preemption hypothesis states that accessibility in production is shaped by competition in context (Goldberg, 2019), working memory is likely critical to regulate that competition when planning speech. Though there is substantial psycholinguistic research examining working memory in language comprehension (e.g. ...
Article
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What we say generally follows distributional regularities, such as learning to avoid "the asleep dog" because we hear "the dog that's asleep" in its place. However, not everyone follows such regularities. We report data on English monolinguals and Spanish-English bilinguals to examine how working memory mediates variation in a-adjective usage (asleep, afraid), which, unlike typical adjectives (sleepy, frightened), tend to resist attributive use. We replicate previous work documenting this tendency in a sentence production task. Critically, for all speakers, the tendency to use a-adjectives attributively or non-attributively was modulated by individual differences in working memory. But for bilinguals, a-adjective use was additionally modulated by an interaction between working memory and category fluency in the dominant language (English), revealing an interactive role of domain-general and language-related mechanisms that enable regulation of competing (i.e. attributive and non-attributive) alternatives. These results show how bilingualism reveals fundamental variation in language use, memory, and attention.
... The reason for this might be that young children at the earliest stage of ESL acquisition do not have target-like syntactic categories, nor do they have any kind of word class of verbs to support generalization across verbs. Goldberg (2019) holds that children are more conservative in language use because they are less good at handling knowledge in their high-dimensional conceptual space. Likewise, second language learners sometimes fail to recognize similarities across transferred negation exemplars, so their early second language develops in a verbspecific fashion. ...
Article
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Native speakers of English have a strong preference for transferred negation as opposed to non-transferred negation. The present study aims to examine whether young Chinese-speaking ESL learners have a target-like preference for transferred negation and whether they have a system-wide representation of transferred negation in their early English development. Based on the corpora compiled with longitudinal data of a Chinese-speaking child learning English as a second language, the present study analyzed the child’s collocation of matrix verbs with transferred negation and non-transferred negation, the distribution of matrix verbs in transferred negation, and the distribution of negation types in terms of different matrix verbs. The findings show that the verb THINK predominates the matrix verbs of the child’s transferred negation. The imbalanced distribution of matrix verbs in his transferred negation is related to the skewed input of verbs. In sentences with the matrix verb THINK, the child has a target-like preference for transferred negation as opposed to non-transferred negation. However, he does not show a target-like preference for transferred negation in sentences with the matrix verb LOOK LIKE. Hence, we argue that young ESL learners’ generalizations about constructions are focused around particular verbs that occur frequently in those constructions. Young ESL learners do not have an abstract system-wide representation at the earliest stage of second language acquisition. Instead, their ESL acquisition is based on specific verbs.
... He questions the cognitive realism of the TP, especially its reliance upon serial search; Yang's proposal for how the TP overcomes the problem of indirect negative evidence; the idea that rules are actually categorically (un)productive rather than on a cline of productivity; and situations where rules lose productivity despite not being overwhelmed by exceptions. Goldberg (2018Goldberg ( , 2019) also critiques, for instance, the TP's reliance on lists rather than networks of associated forms; a lack of clarity about how the TP restricts the domain of rules; and the potential burden learners must bear in retaining regular forms to establish the sufficient conditions for productivity. ...
Article
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Debate around inflectional morphology in language acquisition has contrasted various rule- versus analogy-based approaches. This paper tests the rule-based Tolerance Principle (TP) against a new type of pattern in the acquisition of the possessive suffix - im in Northern East Cree. When possessed, each noun type either requires or disallows the suffix, which has a complex distribution throughout the lexicon. Using naturalistic video data from one adult and two children – Ani (2;01–4;03) and Daisy (3;08–5;10) – this paper presents two studies. Study 1 applies the TP to the input to extrapolate two possible sets of nested rules for - im and make predictions for child speech. Study 2 tests these predictions and finds that each child’s production of possessives over time is largely consistent with the predictions of the TP. This paper finds the TP can account for the acquisition of the possessive suffix and discusses implications for language science and Cree language communities.
... In a volume devoted primarily to Romance studies, it seems more than appropriate to point out that one of the most pronounced recognitions of this duality between regularities or rules on the one hand and idiosyncrasy on the other can be attributed to the distinction between System and Norm made by Coseriu (1973).33 Even if, in a cognitive model, we would tend to turn Coseriu's (1979: 57) ideas upside down and not talk of the Norm realizing the System, but would rather see the "system" as a network of generalizations arising from "use", the idea of a speaker's "freedom of expression" being restricted by the "fixed limits of traditional realizations" comes very close to the concept of pre-emption as used in Cognitive Grammar and Construction Grammar (Tomasello 2003;Langacker 2008;Goldberg 2019). ...
... All linguistic theories agree that symbols, i.e., arbitrary and conventional pairings of form and meaning (e.g., words such as English child, German Kind, or Hungarian gyerek), are a central unit of all human languages. Construction Grammar approaches (Goldberg 2006(Goldberg , 2019Hilpert 2019;Hoffmann and Trousdale 2013;Hoffmann 2017aHoffmann ,b, 2022, go one step further by claiming that arbitrary form-meaning pairings are not only a useful concept for the description of words but that all levels of grammatical description involve such conventionalized formmeaning pairings. This extended notion of the Saussurean sign is known as 'construction' and encompasses morphemes, words, idioms, as well as abstract phrasal patterns. ...
Article
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Humans are an incredibly creative species – our minds have evolved to a degree that has enabled us to think original thoughts and come up with novel solutions to a great number of problems. One domain of human cognition that has recently received considerable attention is linguistic creativity. The present contribution will take a closer look at how Construction Grammar can account for various types of verbal creativity. In addition to this, it will also explore the implications of creative utterances for Construction Grammar as a mental theory of language.
... The constructionist approach to language has become the fastest growing linguistic and cognitive-functional approach during the past decade (Goldberg, 2019). It is generally accepted in Construction Grammar that language is a structured inventory of constructions, viz., the "constructicon" (Goldberg, 2019, p. 36), which is composed of constructional networks with nodes (constructions) and links (both vertical and horizontal ones). ...
... The Principle of No Synonymy is based on pragmatic reasoning and enabled by statistical pre-emption in language acquisition (Clark, 1987;Goldberg, 1995Goldberg, , 2019. ...
Article
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There is ample psycholinguistic evidence that speakers behave efficiently, using shorter and less effortful constructions when the meaning is more predictable, and longer and more effortful ones when it is less predictable. However, the Principle of No Synonymy requires that all formally distinct variants should also be functionally different. The question is how much two related constructions should overlap semantically and pragmatically in order to be used for the purposes of efficient communication. The case study focuses on want to + Infinitive and its reduced variant with wanna , which have different stylistic and sociolinguistic connotations. Bayesian mixed-effects regression modelling based on the spoken part of the British National Corpus reveals a very limited effect of efficiency: predictability increases the chances of the reduced variant only in fast speech. We conclude that efficient use of more and less effortful variants is restricted when two variants are associated with different registers or styles. This paper also pursues a methodological goal regarding missing values in speech corpora. We impute missing data based on the existing values. A comparison of regression models with and without imputed values reveals similar tendencies. This means that imputation is useful for dealing with missing values in corpora.
... Thus, language is fundamentally predictable. For instance, when encountering a ditransitive verb such as give, the language user expects the GIVER, the GIVEE and the THING GIVEN, because the argument structure construction implies these participants [27][28][29]. In addition, for example, when encountering a new object for the first time, one would refer to it using the determiner the upon the second encounter because of the definiteness marker. ...
Preprint
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Language is fundamentally predictable, both on a higher schematic level as well as low-level lexical items. Regarding predictability on a lexical level, collocations are frequent co-occurrences of words that are often characterized by high strength of association. So far, psycho- and neurolinguistic studies have mostly employed highly artificial experimental paradigms in the investigation of collocations by focusing on the processing of single words or isolated sentences. In contrast, here we analyze EEG brain responses recorded during stimulation with continuous speech, i.e. audio books. We find that the N400 response to collocations is significantly different from that of non-collocations, whereas the effect varies with respect to cortical region (anterior/ posterior) and laterality (left/right). Our results are in line with studies using continuous speech, and they mostly contradict those using artificial paradigms and stimuli. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first neurolinguistic study on collocations using continuous speech stimulation.
... DLMs, in contrast, are performance oriented and are focused on learning how to generate formed linguistic outputs as a function of context while de-emphasizing interpretability 60 . The reliance on performance creates an interesting connection between DLMs and usage (context)-based constructionist approaches to language 58,61 . Furthermore, DLMs avoid the circularity built into many psycholinguistic language models that rely on linguistic terms to explain how language is encoded in neural substrates 19,62 . ...
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Departing from traditional linguistic models, advances in deep learning have resulted in a new type of predictive (autoregressive) deep language models (DLMs). Using a self-supervised next-word prediction task, these models generate appropriate linguistic responses in a given context. In the current study, nine participants listened to a 30-min podcast while their brain responses were recorded using electrocorticography (ECoG). We provide empirical evidence that the human brain and autoregressive DLMs share three fundamental computational principles as they process the same natural narrative: (1) both are engaged in continuous next-word prediction before word onset; (2) both match their pre-onset predictions to the incoming word to calculate post-onset surprise; (3) both rely on contextual embeddings to represent words in natural contexts. Together, our findings suggest that autoregressive DLMs provide a new and biologically feasible computational framework for studying the neural basis of language.
... En términos generales, la GC es un modelo que describe las categorías semánticas y sus relaciones, la estructura de los eventos, y también analiza los constructos semánticos en una gran variedad de categorías sintácticas (Langacker, 1987(Langacker, , 1991(Langacker, , 1999(Langacker, , 2008(Langacker, y 2009. Por su parte, la Gramática de Construcciones de Berkeley (GCB) y las teorías afines, como la Gramática de Construcciones Basada en el Signo (GCBS), se centran en las relaciones sintácticas y el fenómeno de la herencia en detalle (Fillmore, Kay y O'Connor, 1988;Fillmore y Kay, 1996y 1999Bender, Sag y Wasow, 2003;Michaelis, 2005;Boas y Sag, 2012;Hoffman, 2017;Goldberg, 2019). ...
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En este artículo se desarrolla un análisis cualitativo de la construcción progresiva verbal inglesa a partir de una muestra del conjunto de corpus York-Toronto-Helsinki-Penn, en aras de ilustrar los patrones de cambio semántico-aspectual que experimenta esta construcción a lo largo de su desarrollo diacrónico. Se elabora un análisis cognitivista que indica la persistencia de las configuraciones aspectuales propias de la categoría progresiva del inglés actual desde los períodos medievales. En este análisis, el concepto de gradiente lingüístico parece explicar las diferencias en las conceptualizaciones que caracterizan a la categoría en cada período en virtud de la estructura formal de la construcción.
... Cette recherche s'inscrit dans un ensemble de travaux autour des séquences de lexèmes ayant des propriétés statistiques particulières dans les corpus écrits ou oraux. Elle rejoint, dans le domaine des MD, les approches des constructions (Goldberg, 2006(Goldberg, , 2019Herbst et al., 2014 ;Hilpert, 2014), des collostructions (Desagulier, 2015 ;Gries, 2019) et des multi-mots (voir Constant et al., 2017 pour un état de l'art). Dans ces approches, l'accent est mis sur la régularité de séquences qui apparaissent intuitivement comme plus ou moins figées, voire lexicalisées et/ou non-compositionnelles. ...
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Polymorphism has long been recognized as a crucial dimension of the nature of language. One of the merits of dialectology and dialectologists is emphasis on the inherently variable and polymorphic nature of linguistic systems, which are always in a state of relative equilibrium and stability. The most striking features of the Occitan data that will be discussed lies in the possibility of finding various forms in a given cell in certain paradigms; more strikingly, it will be shown that two or three (even four) paradigms for one and the same (tense) verb may coexist in the same variety. It will be argued that if polymorphism is the natural state of linguistic systems, it is also anti-economic from a cognitive and processing point of view. It follows that the diachronic evolution of languages tends to develop adaptive solutions to circumvent the potential drawbacks of extreme polymorphism: “natural selection” leads to the reduction or elimination of morphological proliferation. Of course, before reduction or elimination take place, a more or less extended period of time may elapse during which a preference for some paradigmatic options may arise.
Thesis
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Collocations are a ubiquitous phenomenon. Without consciously thinking about them, people encounter them continuously during language use in both comprehension and production. In linguistics, however, collocations have been extensively studied in the last one hundred years and often characterized either as phraseological phenomena (e.g., bitter enemy) or frequent co-occurrences (e.g., annual meeting). In particular, the two structures that were paid most attention to are verb+noun (e.g., abuse trust) and adjective+noun (e.g., high hopes). And although there is evidence from various fields (e.g., first language acquisition, corpus linguistics, cognitive grammar to name a few) about selection preferences towards the use of certain categories in general and for collocations in particular, there are still no comprehensive studies of collocations involving a broad range of different structural groups. Therefore, one of the aims of this thesis is to study whether there are any preferences in the collocational competence towards certain structural groups and if yes, whether this preference is different across languages. For this reason, over 200 native and advanced non-native speakers of English and German as well as native speakers of Russian were tested on their knowledge of phraseological collocations using a multiple-choice collocations test in Experiment 1. Within the same experiment, it was attempted to discover the predictors of collocation competence: e.g., reading habit, alphabetic script, education level, age, onset of language learning, residence in the L2 country, etc. It was established that the morpho-syntactic properties of the language as well as the phenomenon of collocation predict collocation competence. For example, participants were significantly better in those collocational structures the components of which were adjacent and were not often interrupted by insertions in forms of other lexical units. In addition, given the fact that collocational competence can be facilitated by reading, the reading habit/skill was measured using three different measures though various questions in the paper-based questionnaire and in Experiment 2 which was a self-paced reading task. Surprisingly, it was discovered that certain measures of the reading habit can predict collocations reliably better than others. For example, asking a participant how much time they spend reading per week significantly predicted collocational competence in all native speaker groups (i.e., English, German and Russian), but not the non-native groups. The ii contribution of this finding could be methodologically valuable for researchers searching for correlations between the reading habit and different aspects of language use. According to another interesting finding, the similarity of the orthographic systems of L1 and L2 is associated with better collocational competence. In other words, the collocational competence of non-native speakers of German having alphabetic script similar to the L2 (e.g., Ukrainian, Hungarian or Greek) was more likely to be better than of those learners whose alphabetic script was different from the L2 (e.g., Chinese, Arabic, Armenian) suggesting that similarity of script would result in an easier recognition of patterns in the L2 if the script of the L2 is familiar to the language users. It was then hypothesized that this selection preference towards particular collocational structures might stretch to processing differences. Thus, the same participants were tested in Experiment 3, which was a phrasal decision task, and which revealed that adjective+noun collocations were processed the fastest among the four structural groups of collocations. The results also showed that phrasal-like collocations (i.e., adjective+noun and adverb+adjective) were generally processed faster than clausal-like collocations (i.e., verb+noun and verb+adverb) suggesting that processing collocations is easier and faster when the argument structure construction involving the verb does not have to be activated. Processing collocations of various structures was also dependent on whether the base of the collocation belonged to the primary categories from cognitive grammar or to secondary ones. Thus, collocation containing bases that belonged to primary categories (e.g., things or actions) were processed significantly faster than collocations containing words from secondary categories (e.g., qualities). However, the effect is not robust across the five groups tested and it remains unclear whether this effect is specific to the processing of collocations, or it unfolds on higher levels of language processing. These results suggest that a theory of collocation processing should be explicit about the base of the collocation and what role it plays in the processing of a collocation. Similarly to previous findings, it was also established that collocations are processed faster than free combinations suggesting that collocations as chunks (e.g., bitter enemy) are processed in a holistic fashion in comparison to free combinations (e.g., common enemy) that are novel language. The effect was robust across all participant groups, both native and non-native, which speaks in favour of the fact that collocations are a psychologically valid phenomenon for both native and non-native populations. iii Finally, it has been attempted to study the neural correlates of collocation processing. In Experiment 4, available (electroencephalography) EEG measurements from 31 participants listening to a German audio book were analyzed. Given the fact that the speech stimuli were pre-determined, i.e., the text of the audio book, the interpretation of collocation in this part of the study was different from that employed in Experiments 1- 3. Therefore, collocations were seen as frequently co-occurring word combinations which are different from non-collocations based on a corpus-derived association measure, in this case, mutual information. The brain response for the two conditions was compared in the N400 time window. It was hypothesized that since N400 is an ERP component that is a marker of unpredictability, surprisal and higher processing load, non-collocations should exhibit a larger N400 in comparison to collocations. The results of the permutation tests revealed that collocations were processed statistically differently from non-collocations at all electrode sites. The exact configurations of the effect, however, are mixed. The largest differences were observed in the left-anterior area where collocations were modulated by larger negativities in the N400 time window, and in the right-posterior area where non-collocations displayed larger negativities. Given that previous studies of collocations (including Experiment 3 of the current thesis) often employed artificial designs in studying these word combinations, the result of Experiment 4 are especially valuable for the understanding of collocations since the target items were neither matched with non-collocations containing semantic violation nor presented in isolation. In fact, all items were embedded in a coherent piece of discourse presented in the form of a continuous speech signal that presents a highly naturalistic task. To sum up, this work has managed to provide evidence that collocations are both psychologically and neurophysiologically valid using both standard behavioural paradigms as well as elaborate electrophysiological (naturalistic) methods, which presents triangulation of methods in the study of collocation processing. Given that the differences between collocation processing in native and non-native populations have been extensively studied previously, a further step can be seen in researching the neural correlates of collocation processing in non-native speakers, which will bring us closer to gaining a comprehensive picture of the nature of collocations.
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