Islands of (im)productivity in corpus data and acceptability judgments

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Dutch has a number of constructions for expressing that a particular event is likely or possible. Two of these, one using a derivational morpheme and the other a copula construction, are investigated to see whether they are both productive and to what degree their meanings overlap. Their distribution in a corpus showed some similarities and differences. In a follow-up magnitude estimation experiment, results showed that the judgments by native speakers of Dutch reflected these same similarities and differences. The consistent distinction in acceptability indicates that the corpus findings correspond to mental representations. We interpret this as converging evidence for the productivity and psychological reality of the constructions, and argue that corpus and experimental methods are complementary tools.


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