Diachronic Construction Grammar

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The main goal of this chapter is to discuss the value of the Construction Grammar framework to solving perceived problems with diachronic syntax. As such, one part of this chapter provides a condensed review of previous research in diachronic syntax, including a brief discussion of why many linguists have doubted the value of such work. While most of this early work did not emphasize the importance of constructions to our understanding of either synchronic or diachronic syntax, we do identify earlier examples of work for which the notion of construction was crucial, although not richly developed. The bulk of the chapter then proposes ways in which a constructional perspective/theory allows us to address some of these perceived problems with the study of diachronic syntax, hence providing a research context for the individual studies published in this volume.


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