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Constructions are not predictable but are motivated: evidence from the Spanish completive reflexive

  • Wojciech Lewandowski EMAIL logo
From the journal Linguistics


Many researchers seem to think that Construction Grammar posits the existence of only wholly idiosyncratic constructions. However, this misconception betrays a deep misunderstanding of the approach because it glosses over the fact that constructions rarely if ever emerge sui generis. Rather, Construction Grammar aims to balance the fact that some linguistic uses cannot be fully predicted from other well-established uses with the fact that extensions of a construction, while not predictable, are motivated by other senses in the constructional network. This paper illustrates this idea by providing an analysis of the Spanish completive reflexive marker se.

Corresponding author: Wojciech Lewandowski, Institut für Angewandte Linguistik und Translatologie, Universität Leipzig, Geisteswissenschaftliches Zentrum, Beethovenstraße 15, 04107Leipzig, Germany, E-mail:

Funding source: Marie Sklodowska-Curie Foundation

Award Identifier / Grant number: H2020-MSCA:IF-2014-658596

Award Identifier / Grant number: FFI2017–82460–P

Funding source: European FEDER Funds


I acknowledge the support of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program grant from the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Foundation (H2020-MSCA:IF-2014-658596) and a research grant (FFI2017–82460–P) from the Spanish State Research Agency and the European FEDER Funds. I would like to thank Adele Goldberg and Jaume Mateu for their comments on an earlier version of this paper.


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Received: 2020-12-02
Accepted: 2020-12-02
Published Online: 2021-01-12
Published in Print: 2021-01-27

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