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Volume 53, Issue 6 (Nov 2015)


A constructionist approach to causative frighten verbs

María Sandra Peña Cervel
  • Corresponding author
  • Departamento de Filologías Modernas, University of La Rioja, c/San José de Calasanz 33, Edificio de Filología, 26004 Logroño (La Rioja), Spain
  • Email:
Published Online: 2015-10-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2015-0032


This paper studies, on the basis of corpus data, the licensing and blocking factors in the lexical-constructional integration process of causative frighten verbs into a number of constructions. This study is particularly compatible with the central postulates of Goldberg’s (1995, 2006) Cognitive Construction Grammar. Thus, the analysis is carried out on the basis of construction-specific and more general constraints spelled out in order to avoid the mismatch between coercing and coerced constructional elements. We devote our attention to constraints involving conceptual compatibility between lexical items and constructional configurations, and to the metonymic and metaphoric activity which underlies such compatibility. We also explore the pragmatic and discourse-functional features which influence acceptability in constructional environments. In addition, two families of constructions are identified and discussed as separate from other constructions: the fake intransitive and the cause subject constructions. We offer a fine-grained analysis of both constructional families and of each of the members that each accommodates.

Keywords: causative frighten verbs; high-level metaphor; high-level metonymy


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About the article

Published Online: 2015-10-27

Published in Print: 2015-11-01

Funding: This article is based on research supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, grants no. FFI2011-29798-C02-01 and FFI2013-43593-P.

Citation Information: Linguistics, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2015-0032. Export Citation

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