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Cognitive Linguistics

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Questions with long-distance dependencies: A usage-based perspective

Ewa Dąbrowska1

1 Sheffield University, UK

E-mail: .

Citation Information: Cognitive Linguistics. Volume 19, Issue 3, Pages 391–425, ISSN (Online) 1613-3641, ISSN (Print) 0936-5907, DOI: 10.1515/COGL.2008.015, September 2008

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Attested questions with long-distance dependencies (e.g., What do you think you're doing?) tend to be quite stereotypical: the matrix clause usually consists of a WH word, the auxiliary do or did, the pronoun you, and the verb think or say, with no other elements; and they virtually never contain more than one subordinate clause. This has lead some researchers in the usage-based framework (Dąbrowska 2004; Verhagen 2005) to hypothesise that speakers' knowledge about such constructions is best explained in terms of relatively specific, low level templates rather than general rules that apply “across the board”. The research reported here was designed to test this hypothesis and alternative hypotheses derived from rule-based theories.

Keywords:: Usage-based model; long-distance dependencies; unbounded dependencies; acceptability judgment experiment; prototype effects

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