This paper contributes to the development of collostructional analysis by taking up one of the long-standing issues in collostructional analysis, viz. the assessment and interpretation of the collexeme lists created. It uses the DWDS corpus documenting 20th century written German to study two modalverb constructions which contain either vermögen or bekommen as the first verb plus an infinitive. When expressing ‘possibility’/‘capability’, these constructions compete with the ubiquitous and strongly grammaticalized könnenconstruction. To compare their constructional semantics, the paper combines collostructional analyses with a close investigation of the verbal meanings characterizing their Vinf slots. To classify the collexemes occurring in these slots comprehensively, the semantic information provided about each Vinf collexeme by “GermaNet” is utilized in three different ways: A manual, context-sensitive classification of the top collexemes into the 15 generic verb classes provided by GermaNet is followed by cluster analyses over the semantic-relatedness values given out by the SemRel tool of GermaNet for the pairwise comparison of all possible collexeme combinations. This is complemented by a network analysis identifying collexemes that are salient or “central”, i.e. located on the largest number of “shortest paths” connecting any two collexemes. The implications of the results for the functional differential between the two constructions as well as the methodology itself are discussed.
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