Constructional change at the interface of cognition, culture, and language use

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On the basis of an extensive corpus analysis, this paper investigates how cognitive, cultural, and language-internal factors conspire in the diachronic development of German nominalization patterns. Focusing on nominalization with the suffix -ung, the present study demonstrates that this word-formation pattern is subject to an increasing array of word-formation constraints. This is due to (a) shifts in the availability and prototypicality of reading variants evoked by the word-formation pattern, (b) the increasing productivity of competing word-formation patterns, and (c) sociocultural factors such as the emergence of language purism, which promoted the replacement of ung-derivatives with other word-formation products. The results of the corpus analysis lend support to a usage-based and radically constructionist view of morphology and morphological change.


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