Mapping meaning with distributional methods
A diachronic corpus-based study of existential there
The semantics of existential there is discussed in a diachronic, corpus-based perspective. While previous studies of there have been qualitative or relied on interpreting relative frequencies directly, the present study combines multivariate statistical techniques with linguistic theory through distributional semantics. It is argued that existential uses of there in earlier stages of English were not semantically empty, and that the original meaning was primarily deictic rather than locative. This analysis combines key insights from previous studies of existential there with a Construction Grammar perspective, and discusses some methodological concerns regarding statistical methods for creating computational semantic maps from diachronic corpus data.
Keywords: distributional semantics, Construction Grammar, diachronic linguistics, semantic maps, existential there
Published online: 31 January 2014
Cited by other publications
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