Variation motivated by analogy with fixed chunks
Overlap between the reflexive and the way construction
This study looks at the variable use of two related forms, namely the reflexive construction (The defendant talked himself into trouble) and the way construction (The actress danced her way to stardom). Despite their differences, the two constructions are often used in ways that can be described as one taking over the other’s expressive functions. Following Mondorf (2011), I assume that the variation results in part from the historical competition between the two, and from the fact that the process of specialization is not yet complete. I present another factor responsible for the overlap, which may keep the specialization from ever being concluded. It involves specific uses of a construction chunked into formulaic phrases (like talk oneself into trouble) which are used reversively (talk oneself out of trouble) against the specifications of the construction they are based on. That is, the kind of variation discussed here is set in motion by the same mechanism observed in novelty motivated through local analogies with specific expressions and low-level instances of a construction.
Keywords: resultative constructions, reflexive construction, way construction, chunking, implicature, analogy
Published online: 03 July 2019
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