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Volume 49, Issue 6 (Jan 2011)


The partial productivity of constructions as induction

Laura Suttle
  • Corresponding author
  • Princeton University
  • Email:
/ Adele E. Goldberg
  • Princeton University
Published Online: 2011-11-03 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling.2011.035


Whether words can be coerced by constructions into new uses is determined in part by semantic sensicality and statistical preemption. But other factors are also at play. Experimental results reported here suggest that speakers are more confident that a target coinage is acceptable to the degree that attested instances cover the semantic space that includes the target coinage. The relevance of coverage is supported by combined effects of type frequency and variability of attested instances [Experiments 1a–1b], and an expected interaction between similarity and variability [Experiment 3]. Similarity to an attested instance is also found to play a role: speakers are more confident of a target coinage when the coinage is more similar to an attested instance [Experiment 3]. Experiment 2 provides a manipulation check that indicates that participants are in fact basing their confidence ratings on the perceived productivity of constructions. The results reported here lend support to the idea that the productivity of constructions depends on general properties of induction.

About the article

Correspondence Address: Laura Suttle, Psychology Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA.

Received: 2010-04-02

Revised: 2011-01-05

Published Online: 2011-11-03

Published in Print: 2011-11-01

Citation Information: Linguistics, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling.2011.035. Export Citation

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