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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton January 19, 2018

Idiomatic singleton or prototype? A productivity analysis of be-adj-and-v

  • Susanne Flach EMAIL logo


This article addresses the morphological constraint on the ‘formulaic frame’ be-sure-and-v (Be sure and wear flowers in your hair!), whose idiomatic reading disappears in inflected uses (*She was sure and wore flower in her hair). This constraint also applies to certain verbal patterns (go/come-v, try-and-v) and is at least probabilistic for others (wait and see, go-and-v). A recent usagebased approach suggests that the so-called Bare Stem Condition follows from the semantics of the affected patterns, which are schematically non-assertive and thus functionally inappropriate for use in inflected, assertive environments. The same can be shown to apply to hortative be-sure-and-v, suggesting that the morphological behaviour of both verbal and adjectival pseudo-coordination have the same underlying functional-semantic constraint motivation. Supporting evidence comes from the status of be-sure-and-v relative to instantiations of the pattern: rather than being an idiosyncratic, isolated idiom, be-sure-and-v is a subtype of a moderately productive be-adj-and-v construction (be honest and admit, be patient and wait). Be-adj-and-v shows many of the characteristics of other pseudo-coordinated constructions, including the combination of semantically coherent slots fillers (flexible-adapt, glad-rejoice) and the asymmetric framing of single events. Methodologically, the article showcases how Collostructional Analyses can be used as diagnostic tools to identify (sub)types and slot-filler consistency in a bottom-up fashion, separating schema instantiations from syntagmatic ‘noise’ (i.e., the compositional adjectival predicate, My raspberries are ripe and taste delicious). Thus, the method identifies (and confirms) be-sure-and-v as the morphological, semantic, and statistical prototype of the more general schema.

Published Online: 2018-1-19
Published in Print: 2017-12-20

© 2018 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston

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