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Innovative coinage

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Abstract

The innovative creation of lexical items is not a topic of chief relevance among those which tend to mark the development of grammatical models. Yet nonce-formations and neologisms show the speaker's remarkable ability to create new lexical items in speech interaction and should thus be accounted for by linguistic theories of functional orientation. This article deals with a particular case of innovative lexical creation: the use of proper nouns in verbal function. Following the analysis in Clark &amp; Clark (1979), I will defend the view that verbal eponyms are <b>contextuals</b>, that is, expressions whose interpretation is strongly tied to the context in which they are used. Unlike authors who have argued that the meaning of these units is predictable, I will show that verbal eponyms may receive multiple interpretations out of context, and that their meaning may shift from one setting to another. Next I will examine the extent to which the observed facts can be incorporated in two functional theories of language: Construction Grammar and Functional Discourse Grammar. After discarding the possibility of treating verbal eponyms as an example of coercion, a notion frequently adduced to justify a constructional approach to grammar, I will propose that the organization of Functional Discourse Grammar, which systematically links up with a conceptual and a contextual component, offers a more adequate architecture to implement the analysis proposed.

References

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