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Publication Date:
March 2012

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Zeschel, Arne

Incipient Productivity

A Construction-Based Approach to Linguistic Creativity

Series:Cognitive Linguistics Research [CLR] 49


    Aims and Scope

    How do speakers vary established patterns of language use and adapt them to novel contexts of application? This study presents a usage-based approach to linguistic creativity: combining detailed qualitative with large-scale quantitative analyses of corpus data, it traces the emergence of partial productivity in clusters of conventional collocations.

    Focusing on English and German intensification constructions, it proceeds in three steps: having first inventoried the lexical means (of a given semantic type) that are recruited for signalling intensity in both languages, collostructional analysis is then used to identify entrenched intensity collocations involving these formatives in three different syntactic constructions. Third, multi-rater manual classification methods as well as distribution-based automatic classification methods are employed to uncover semantic generalisations over the attested types on different levels of abstraction.

    Collocational expansion is shown to proceed through local analogies within sets of semantically similar stored instances of a construction. Synthesising insights from research on language acquisition, variation and change, it is thus argued that creative extensions of linguistic conventions are intrinsically bound up with aspects of memory and repetition.

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    Supplementary Information

    23 x 15.5 cm
    ix, 268 pages
    Type of Publication:
    Construction Grammar; Cognitive Semantics; Corpus Linguistics; Idioms; Intensification

    Arne Zeschel, University of Southern Denmark, Sønderborg, Denmark.

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