Getting at the meaning of the English at-construction: the case of a constructional split

Abstract : On the basis of a corpus-based study of the at-frame in English, this article evaluates Goldberg's (2006) hypothesis that constructional meaning originates with the meaning of the verbs frequently occurring in a given syntactic pattern. Our study reveals that for the at-construction, this hypothesis does not hold: the constructional meaning is poorly reflected by the distribution of the verbs, and is only arrived at by attending to specific aspects of the semantics of the verbs occurring in it. This suggests that a more complex learning strategy than the simple import of lexical semantics into constructions is needed, especially to account for the emergence of constructions whose meaning is not lexicalized by any verb in the language.
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Contributor : Maarten Lemmens <>
Submitted on : Friday, February 10, 2012 - 10:58:29 AM
Last modification on : Friday, December 14, 2018 - 3:36:03 PM

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Florent Perek, Maarten Lemmens. Getting at the meaning of the English at-construction: the case of a constructional split. CogniTextes, Association française de linguistique cognitive, 2010, 5, http://cognitextes.revues.org/331. 〈halshs-00668691〉

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