Edited by Ben Clarke and Jorge Arús-Hita
[English Text Construction 9:1] 2016
► pp. 165–189
In this study we take an ‘above the clause’ perspective on the conceptualisation of complex events of Irish English and Modern Irish within a functional Role and Reference Grammar perspective, using corpus based data. Functional models of language generally assume some layered structure of the clause, the noun phrase and the word. (Nolan 2012a, 2012b; Van Valin 2005). While excellent work has heretofore been achieved at clause level, the description of important linguistic phenomena above the clause has often been somewhat neglected. In this regard, a central part of the grammar of every human language is the encoding of events and their participants in a clause. This motivates an ‘above the clause’ perspective to characterise the balance between uniformity of encoding and variability in encoding within and across languages. In the functional-cognitive paradigm, form and meaning are not separated into self-contained components. Instead, syntactic structures of varying degrees of complexity and abstraction are paired with their corresponding semantic structures. We argue that the interaction of semantic relations with the hierarchy of clausal linkage is at the strongest pole with the semantic relations covering phase and modifying subevents. We also argue that light verb constructions are formed pre-syntactically in the lexicon using and defend this by applying certain criteria as a diagnostic. The function of light verbs in these constructions is to modulate the realisation of event and sub-event semantics into syntax. We provide evidence of the dynamicity in conceptualising a complex event, considered as complex predication across constructions, in Irish English and Modern Irish.