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The cognitive motivation for the use of dangling participles in English

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Abstract

Dangling participles are considered incorrect usage in written Standard English. Nonetheless, dangling participles enjoy widespread usage, particularly in spoken English. This paper argues that the use of dangling participles is semantically and cognitively motivated. In adopting a usage-based view and analyzing attested data from the British National Corpus, this study shows that constructions with a dangling participle describe a coherent “cognizance scenario” as their constructional meaning. The dangling participial construction evokes a conceptualizer who conceives the situation described in the main clause. Thanks to its constructional semantics, the dangling participle is especially common in text genres which focus on the interaction with the hearer.

References

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