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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton 2022

Categoriality in the English Gerund System

Charlotte Maekelberghe, Lauren Fonteyn and Liesbet Heyvaert


Within the frameworks of both formalist and cognitive-functional linguistics, the form and function of the English (nominal and verbal) gerund have long been studied from a theoretical and univariate perspective. In this retrospective review chapter, we argue that recent usage-based and quantitative methodologies, inspired by Cognitive Linguistics, have led to a myriad of novel insights into gerundive constructions. We show that conceptual features associated with “nominal” or “verbal” construals of an event, as presented in the cognitive-functional paradigm, can be operationalized as variables within a quantitative, variationist approach. In doing so, the variation between nominal and verbal gerunds is assessed from a probabilistic rather than dichotomous point of view, with particular attention to lectal variation and lexical constraints. The picture that emerges is multifactorial and opens up many avenues for future research.

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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