The growth of the transitivising Reaction Object Construction
This paper explores the growth of the Reaction Object Construction (ROC) as in Pauline smiled her thanks, offering new insights into its characterisation and historical development from the perspective of Construction Grammar (Goldberg 1995, 2006, 2019) and its application to patterns of language change (Hilpert 2013; Traugott & Trousdale 2013). It is argued that the modern ROC qualifies as a traditional form-meaning pairing and, at a deeper level, as a polysemous construction that follows the path of development of other transitivising constructions such as the way-construction (Israel 1996), and of processes of constructionalisation in general. Once the ROC imposes a coreferential constraint on its object argument, acquiring in this way its status as a form-meaning pairing over the Early Modern English period (1500–1700), the construction increases its productivity and schematicity; at the same time it decreases its compositionality since the link between the form/syntax and the overall meaning of the construction becomes less transparent, as in The door jingled a welcome. The ROC can thus be argued to be part and result of a broader development in the grammar of English, namely the historical trend towards transitivisation.