Article published in:The Wealth and Breadth of Construction-Based Research
Edited by Timothy Colleman, Frank Brisard, Astrid De Wit, Renata Enghels, Nikos Koutsoukos, Tanja Mortelmans and María Sol Sansiñena
[Belgian Journal of Linguistics 34] 2020
► pp. 248–258
Dialect syntax in Construction Grammar
Theoretical benefits of a constructionist approach to double modals in English
This squib focuses on two main issues. Firstly, it examines the ways in which constructionist approaches to language can bring about an improved theoretical understanding of Double Modals (DMs) in dialects of English. DMs have proved to be a long-lasting, notorious puzzle in formal linguistics, and have not received any general solution today, with much analysis devoted to their constituent structure and their postulated layers of derivation, especially in generative models of language. Usage-based strands of Construction Grammar (CxG) appear to naturally overcome such problems, while conveying a more cognitively and socially realistic picture of such dialect variants. Secondly, and more importantly, we argue that such an improved, constructional understanding of DMs can also contribute to advances in the modeling of dialect syntax in CxG, both theoretically and methodologically. In particular, DMs constitute an interesting case of relatively rare and restricted syntactic constructions in the dialects they appear in, and they are likely to exhibit different rates of entrenchment and network schematicity cross-dialectally. Moreover, the empirical challenges surrounding the measurement of DM usage invite us to refine the methodological concept of triangulation, by sketching a two-step approach with a data-driven study of new types of corpora on the one hand, and a hypothesis-driven experimental account of acceptability in relevant geographical locations on the other.
Keywords: Construction Grammar, dialectology, double modals, syntactic variation, American English
Published online: 28 May 2021
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