Complex prepositions and variation within the PNP construction

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This study looks at the variations within preposition + noun + preposition (PNP) sequences such as <i>at (the) risk of</i>, commonly classified as complex prepositions (CPs). The current literature suggests that the more indivisible the structure, the more grammaticalised the unit. Representations of complex prepositions within contemporary grammars indicate that the most common intruder within the fixed PNP sequence is the definite article. Synchronic and diachronic corpus studies were carried out to assess how fixed the form with the definite article is, and whether any CPs have shown a recent tendency to lose it. Decategorialisation was found to be only a minor factor for the CPs investigated, with a combination of semantic and grammatical factors featuring in the grammaticalisation process.


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