Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Cognitive Linguistics

Editor-in-Chief: Divjak, Dagmar / Newman, John

4 Issues per year

IMPACT FACTOR 2017: 1.902
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 2.297

CiteScore 2017: 1.62

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 1.032
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 1.930

See all formats and pricing
More options …
Volume 25, Issue 1


The processing of verb-argument constructions is sensitive to form, function, frequency, contingency and prototypicality

Nick C. Ellis / Matthew Brook O'Donnell / Ute Römer
Published Online: 2014-02-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2013-0031


We used free association and verbal fluency tasks to investigate verb-argument constructions (VACs) and the ways in which their processing is sensitive to statistical patterns of usage (verb type-token frequency distribution, VAC-verb contingency, verb-VAC semantic prototypicality). In experiment 1, 285 native speakers of English generated the first word that came to mind to fill the V slot in 40 sparse VAC frames such as `he ____ across the. . . .', `it ____ of the. . . .', etc. In experiment 2, 40 English speakers generated as many verbs that fit each frame as they could think of in a minute. For each VAC, we compared the results from the experiments with corpus analyses of verb selection preferences in 100 million words of usage and with the semantic network structure of the verbs in these VACs. For both experiments, multiple regression analyses predicting the frequencies of verb types generated for each VAC show independent contributions of (i) verb frequency in the VAC, (ii) VAC-verb contingency and (iii) verb prototypicality in terms of centrality within the VAC semantic network. VAC processing involves rich associations, tuned by verb type and token frequencies and their contingencies of usage, which interface syntax, lexis and semantics. We consider the implications for the mental representation of VACs.

Keywords: verb-argument constructions; usage; free association task; frequency; contingency; semantic prototypicality; tallying; implicit learning; construction grammar

About the article

Published Online: 2014-02-27

Published in Print: 2014-02-01

Citation Information: Cognitive Linguistics, Volume 25, Issue 1, Pages 55–98, ISSN (Online) 1613-3641, ISSN (Print) 0936-5907, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2013-0031.

Export Citation

©2014 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

Citing Articles

Here you can find all Crossref-listed publications in which this article is cited. If you would like to receive automatic email messages as soon as this article is cited in other publications, simply activate the “Citation Alert” on the top of this page.

Wei Yi, Shiyi Lu, and Guojie Ma
Second Language Research, 2017, Page 026765831770800
Nick C. Ellis and Dave C. Ogden
Topics in Cognitive Science, 2017, Volume 9, Number 3, Page 604
Yevgen Matusevych, Afra Alishahi, and Ad Backus
Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 2016, Volume 31, Number 10, Page 1215
Nick C. Ellis
Review of Cognitive Linguistics, 2016, Volume 14, Number 1, Page 105
Amy Perfors
Language Learning and Development, 2016, Volume 12, Number 2, Page 138
Nadiia Denhovska, Ludovica Serratrice, and John Payne
Language Learning, 2016, Volume 66, Number 1, Page 159
Stefan Th. Gries and Nick C. Ellis
Language Learning, 2015, Volume 65, Number S1, Page 228
Nick C. Ellis, Matthew Brook O'Donnell, and Ute Römer
Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, 2014, Volume 4, Number 4, Page 405
Ute Römer, Matthew Brook O'Donnell, and Nick C. Ellis
The Modern Language Journal, 2014, Volume 98, Number 4, Page 952

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in