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Loss of intersective gradience as the lifeboat of a dying construction. An analysis of the diachronic change of causative bring

Ulrike Schneider EMAIL logo
From the journal Folia Linguistica


This paper focusses on diachronic processes which lead to the disambiguation between different constructions involving the same verb. It follows the development of bring as a periphrastic causative over the course of the Early Modern and Late Modern English periods and compares it to the development of other bring constructions. In a corpus-based analysis, it utilizes measures of cue strength as well as collostructional analysis to determine whether reflexive objects, negation, modals or the passive are cues strongly associated with the dying periphrastic causative X bring cause Y to-inf. Results indicate that the construction indeed increasingly attracts reflexive objects in combination with a modal or negation. This finding is interpreted as an indication that non-prototypical verbal properties developing into strong cues for a construction may serve to make a rare construction more salient and thus easier to recognize and process. Furthermore, the construction’s restriction to reflexive patients vastly reduces variability in the object slot.

Corresponding author: Ulrike Schneider, Department of English and Linguistics, University of Mainz, Mainz, Germany, E-mail:


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Received: 2020-09-29
Accepted: 2021-03-21
Published Online: 2021-10-14
Published in Print: 2021-11-25

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