The book offers a cognitively realistic account of morphosyntactic alternations through a combination of corpus-based analysis and (psycho)linguistic experiments.
The central thesis of the book is that the choice between competing constructions is driven by semantic, syntactic, morphological, phonological, discourse-related, and lectal features. The study outlines ways to assess the relative importance and cognitive plausibility of the various factors by advocating methodological pluralism – one of the pillars of a cognitively realistic linguistic theory. A deeper understanding of the cognitive grounding of the probabilistic structure of language is developed as reflected in the patterns and structures we see across different types of language data. The book outlines some of the different modelling techniques available for capturing the multivariate and probabilistic nature of linguistic knowledge quantitatively.
It is argued that for making cognitively realistic statistical models, we first need to break these models by pitting different modelling techniques against each other and against human classification behaviour as manifested in a range of (psycho)linguistic experiments.