Rethinking constructional polysemy

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This chapter examines the conative construction, e.g., I kicked at the ball, usingcollexeme analysis. Previous studies report that strong collexemes of a constructionprovide an indication of its central meaning, from which polysemic extensionsare derived. However, the conative construction does not seem to attracta particular kind of verb that could be used to characterize its central meaning.To address this problem, a variant of collexeme analysis is suggested thatconsists in splitting the verbal distribution into semantic classes and consider“verb-class-specific” constructions independently. For the three classes tested,the most significant collexemes are found to be verbs whose inherent meaningcontains the semantic contribution of the construction in that class. Hence, themost attracted collexemes do provide an indication of the constructional meaning,albeit specific to each verb class.


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