Cross-linguistic investigation of the way-construction in English, Dutch, and German
McColm, Daniel George Fernandes
This thesis presents a large-scale corpus investigation into the way-construction (found in sentences such as Peter made his way to the front door) in English, Dutch, and German in a Construction Grammar framework. A cross-linguistic investigation of the way-construction on this scale has never been carried out; this thesis fills a gap in the literature by chronicling the development and synchronic state of the construction in each of the three languages, and presenting a cross-linguistic comparison. In Chapter 2, I present a justification for employing a Construction Grammar framework for this investigation, and also outline the diachrony and synchrony of the construction in each of the three languages. In this chapter, I also show that all three of these languages have (at least) one other construction similar in form and function to the way-construction, and that multiple sources have played a role in the development of the construction in each language (cf. the papers in van de Velde et al. 2013 on multiple source constructions). Chapter 3 outlines the methodology of the study and describes the corpora and statistical analysis techniques used in this study. Chapters 4 and 5 concern the role of reanalysis and analogy in the development of the way-construction in the three languages. In these chapters I refine some of the principles of reanalysis and analogy in light of my data on the way-construction, and to contribute to the debate as to whether reanalysis or analogy (or neither) is the primary mechanism of language change. I show in these chapters that reanalysis and analogy have worked in tandem (cf. Fischer 2007); the reanalysis of way and its Dutch and German equivalent weg as a non-referential object in the three languages has facilitated a long chain of analogical extensions (cf. Israel 1996). Chapter 6 deals with frequency effects and exemplar representations in the development of the way-construction. In this chapter I add to the growing body of work which shows that frequency effects are abundant in language, and that part of the development of the way-construction in the three languages can be attributed to frequency effects, and that the verbs occurring in the way-construction in the three languages can be grouped into exemplar clouds of semantically similar items. The role of language contact and borrowing in the development of the Dutch and German way-constructions is discussed in Chapter 7. I show that these concepts can be incorporated into a Construction Grammar framework (as e.g. Höder 2012 has done), and that the productivity and schematicity of the Dutch and German way-constructions has increased considerably as a result of contact with English. Chapter 8 concludes the thesis.