Edited by Ludovic De Cuypere, Clara Vanderschueren and Gert De Sutter
[Belgian Journal of Linguistics 31] 2017
► pp. 8–29
Syntactic alternation research
Taking stock and some suggestions for the future
Over the last 20 or so years, research on syntactic alternations has made great strides in both theoretical and methodological ways. On the theoretical side, much of the research on syntactic alternations was restricted to generative linguistics debating how near synonymous constructions differed slightly in meaning and/or how one (and which one) was derived from the other (transformationally). On the methodological side, much research consisted of monofactorial studies based on relatively simple text counts. By now, however, syntactic alternation research has become much more functional (in a broad sense of the term) and much more methodologically sophisticated: Much work is now motivated/interpreted psycholinguistically or in a broadly usage-based/cognitive linguistic framework and much work has now adopted a regression-based analytical strategy. These attractive developments notwithstanding, much remains to be done and, in this paper, I sketch some recent developments in (largely) separate alternation studies that I would like the field to adopt more broadly. These developments can be heuristically grouped into ones that have to do with (i) the statistical analysis of corpus-based and experimental alternation data, (ii) new predictors that explain typically unexplored aspects of variability in alternations.
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