Article published in:Deconstructing Constructions
Edited by Christopher S. Butler and Javier Martín Arista
[Studies in Language Companion Series 107] 2009
► pp. 271–294
Semantic and pragmatic constraints on the English get-passive
This article focuses on the so-called get-passive, frequently regarded as a problematic construction in the linguistic literature. It is my contention that a lexically-based approach is insufficient to account for the appropriateness of the get-passive, since pragmatic and contextual factors are also crucial to ascertain its acceptability. Basing my discussion on corpus data, I will analyze how the semantics of the get-passive interacts with the semantic properties of verbs from five semantic types that can be integrated within the construction: affect, giving, motion (take-subtype), corporeal and annoying. Along the lines of Goldberg & Jackendoff (2004: 563), I suggest that the get-passive should be treated as a family of constructions in order to account for its semantic and pragmatic properties. Two main subconstructions will be posited: the “causative” get-passive and the “spontaneous” get-passive.
Published online: 14 January 2009