Historical shifts with the into-causative construction in American English

Mark Davies 1  and Jong-Bok Kim 2
  • 1 Department of Linguistics and English Language, Brigham Young University, 84602, Provo, USA
  • 2 Department of English Language and Linguistics, Kyung Hee University, 26 Kyungheedae-ro, Dongdaemun-gu, Korea
Mark Davies and Jong-Bok Kim
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of English Language and Linguistics, Kyung Hee University, 26 Kyungheedae-ro, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul, 130-701, Korea
  • Email
  • Search for other articles:
  • degruyter.comGoogle Scholar


The syntactic and semantic properties of the into-causative construction, involving the pattern ‘V NP into V-ing’, has been studied in some detail, but its historical development has received less attention. This paper looks at the historical shifts in the construction with much more representative and robust corpora than have been used for previous studies. Based on nearly 11,440 tokens from more than 950 million words of text, the paper considers several important changes in the lexical, syntactic, and semantic properties of the construction. The study also establishes the value of large, diverse historical corpora and their role in researching syntactic and semantic change.

  • Baker, Paul. 2009. The BE06 Corpus of British English and recent language change. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 14(3). 312–337.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Baker, Paul. 2011. Times may change but we’ll always have money: A corpus driven examination of vocabulary change in four diachronic corpora. Journal of English Linguistics 39. 65–88.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Bridgeman, Lorraine, Dale Dillinger, Constance Higgins, P. David Seaman & Floyd A Shank. 1965. More classes of verbs in English. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Linguistics Club.

  • Christie, Elizabeth. 2011. Investigating the differences between the English way-construction and the fake reflexive resultative construction. In Lisa Armstrong (ed.), Proceedings of the 2011 annual conference of the Canadian linguistic association. http://homes.chass.utoronto.ca/~cla-acl/actes2011/Christie_2011.pdf.

  • Davies, Mark. 2009. The 385 + million word Corpus of Contemporary American English (19902008+): Design, architecture, and linguistic insights. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 14. 159–190.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Davies, Mark. 2011. The Corpus of Contemporary American English as the first reliable monitor corpus of English. Literary and Linguistic Computing 25. 447–465.

  • Davies, Mark. 2012a. Expanding horizons in historical linguistics with the 400 million word Corpus of Historical American English. Corpora 7. 121–157.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Davies, Mark. 2012b. Examining recent changes in English: Some methodological issues. In Terttu Nevalainen & Elizabeth Closs Traugott (eds.), Handbook on the history of English: Rethinking approaches to the history of English, 263–287. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Davies, Mark. 2014. Examining syntactic variation in English: The importance of corpus design and corpus size. English Language and Linguistics 19(3). 1–35.

  • Davies, Mark. 2015. The importance of robust corpora in providing more realistic descriptions of variation in English grammar. Linguistic Vanguard 1(1). 305–312.

  • Fonteyn, Lauren & Stefan Hartmann. 2016. Usage-based perspectives on diachronic morphology: A mixed-methods approach towards English ing-nominals. Linguistics Vanguard 2(1). 1–12.

  • Francis, Gill, Susan Hunston & Elizabeth Manning (eds.). 1996. Collins Cobuild grammar patterns 1: Verbs. London: HarperCollins.

  • Gawlik, Oskar. 2013. On the transitive “out of-ing” complementation pattern in Contemporary Spoken American English: A corpus-based study. Poznan Studies in Contemporary Linguistics 49. 167–183.

  • Goldberg, Adele. 1995. Constructions: A construction grammar approach to argument structure. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

  • Goldberg, Adele. 1997. Making one’s way through the data. In Masayoshi Shibatani & Sandra A. Thompson (eds.), Grammatical constructions: Their form and meaning, 29–53. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  • Goldberg, Adele. 2006. Constructions at work: Constructionist approaches in context. New York: Oxford University Press.

  • Gries, Stefan Th. & Anatol Stefanowitsch. 2003. Co-varying collexemes in the into-causative. In Michel Achard & Suzanne Kemmer (eds.), Language, culture, and mind, 225–236. Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications.

  • Hilpert, Martin. 2006. Distinctive collexeme analysis and diachrony. Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory 2(2). 243–257.

  • Hilpert, Martin. 2014. Construction grammar and its application to English. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

  • Hunston, Susan & Gill Francis. 2000. Pattern grammar: A corpus-driven approach to the lexical grammar of English. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

  • Israel, Michael. 1996. The way constructions grow. In Adele Goldberg (ed.), Conceptual structure, discourse and language, 217–230. Stanford, CA: CSLI Publication.

  • Jackendoff, Ray. 1990. Semantic structures. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • Kim, Jong-Bok & Mark Davies. 2016. The into-causative construction in English: A construction-based perspective. English Language and Linguistics 20(1). 55–83.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Levin, Beth & Malka Rappaport Hovav. 1996. Lexical semantics and syntactic structure. In Shalom Lappin (ed.), The handbook of contemporary semantic theory, 487–507. Oxford: Blackwell.

  • Mair, Christian. 2002. Three changing patterns of verb complementation in late modern English: A real-time study based on matching text corpora. English Language and Linguistics 6. 106–131.

  • Michaelis, Laura A. 2012. Making the case for construction grammar. In Hans Boas & Ivan A. Sag (eds.), Sign-based construction grammar, 31–69. Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications.

  • Michaelis, Laura A. 2013. Sign-based construction grammar. In Thomas Hoffman & Graeme Trousdale (eds.), The Oxford handbook of construction grammar, 133–152. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Mondorf, Britta. 2010. Variation and change in English resultative constructions. Language Variation and Change 22. 397–421.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Rappaport Hovav, Malka & Beth Levin. 2001. An event structure account of English resultatives. Language 77. 766–797.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Rohdenburg, Gunter. 2007. Functional constraints in syntactic change: The rise and fall of prepositional constructions in early and late modern English. English Studies 88(2). 217–233.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Rudanko, Juhani. 1991. On verbs governing in -ing in present-day English. English Studies 72(1). 55–72.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Rudanko, Juhani. 2000. Corpora and complementation: Tracing sentential complementation patterns of nouns, adjectives, and verbs over the last three centuries. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

  • Rudanko, Juhani. 2002. Complements and constructions. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

  • Rudanko, Juhani. 2005. Lexico-grammatical innovation in current British and American English: A case study on the transitive into -ing pattern with evidence from the Bank of English corpus. Studia Neophilologica 77. 171–187.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Rudanko, Juhani. 2006. Emergent alternation in complement selection: The spread of the transitive into -ing construction in British and American English. English Linguistics 34(4). 312–331.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Rudanko, Juhani. 2011. Changes in complementation in British and American English. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Vosberg, Uwe. 2003. Cognitive complexity and the establishment of -ing constructions with retrospective verbs in modern English. In Marina Dossena & Charles Jones (eds.), Insights into late modern English, 197–220. Bern: Peter Lang.

  • Wulff, Stefanie, Anatol Stefanowitsch & Stefan Gries. 2007. Brutal Brits and persuasive Americans: Variety-specific meaning construction in the into-causative. In Günter Radden, Klaus-Michael Kӧpcke, Thomas Berg & Peter Siemund (eds.), Aspects of meaning construction, 265–281. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
Purchase article
Get instant unlimited access to the article.
Log in
Already have access? Please log in.

Log in with your institution

Journal + Issues

Linguistics publishes articles and book reviews in the traditional disciplines of linguistics as well as in neighboring disciplines insofar as these are deemed to be of interest to linguists and other students of natural language. The journal also features occasional Special Issues in these fields.