A critical and historical investigation into semantic prosody
While existing literature on cause frequently cites the negative meaning associated with that lexeme, i.e. the fact that cause tends to appear with a negative outcome, e.g. cause an accident, really no scholar has studied in any detail the historical development of the phenomenon. In order to address this missing line of scholarship concerning the diachronic development of, what we refer to here as, a semantic prosody, this paper presents a fine-grained historical study of the development of the negative semantic associations of cause by comparing tokens from the Early Modern English period to those from Present-day English. We are able to conclude that the semantic prosody involved with cause is an emergent diachronic phenomenon. In addition, we are also able to argue that it is at the level of construction that such a prosodic pattern operates. Following from the notion that the semantic prosody is a construction-level phenomenon, we offer an exemplar-based model to motivate certain of the diachronic and synchronic facts.
Keywords: exemplar model, semantic prosody, construction, language change, usage-based theory
Published online: 02 July 2012
Cited by 8 other publications
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