Article published in:Deconstructing Constructions
Edited by Christopher S. Butler and Javier Martín Arista
[Studies in Language Companion Series 107] 2009
► pp. 247–270
The inchoative construction
Semantic representation and unification constraints
This article provides an analysis of English inchoative structures within the framework of a functionally-based conception of language and, specifically, of the lexicon. This theoretical framework – the Lexical Constructional Model (LCM henceforth) – proposes a lexical component composed of two central elements: a repository of lexical units grouped into lexical classes, which are established on the basis of the commonality of meaning of predicates, and a catalogue of constructions, which is also devised as having internal organization. The LCM also postulates that lexical-constructional subsumption is subject to the conditions imposed on the semantic compatibility between predicates and constructions. Conditions invoke higher level cognitive mechanisms like metonymy and metaphor and lower-level semantic restrictions affecting event or argument structure in semantic representations. The analysis of lexical subsumption within the inchoative construction will be subject to two types of restrictions: firstly, there is an external constraint affecting the unification of causative predicates and inchoative structures. This external constraint is based on a high-level metonymic process which has been labelled
process for action: an action is treated as if it were a process that in turn stands for the action. Secondly, unification is conditioned by some internal constraints imposed upon the semantic structure of predicates. Among these there are also two subtypes: (1) constraints on the event structure of predicates, which make reference to the codification of telicity and causativity in the case of causative/inchoative verbs; (2) constraints on the arguments of lexical templates, among which the ‘agent-causer blocking’ and the ‘cause expletivization’ constraints play a crucial role. The analysis of these constraints will in fact reveal the feasibility and explanatory potential of the LCM for meaning construction.
Published online: 14 January 2009
Cited by other publications
Sosa Acevedo, Eulalia Sosa Acevedo
This list is based on CrossRef data as of 25 june 2020. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.