Semantic and pragmatic constraints on the English <i>get</i>-passive

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This article focuses on the so-called <i>get</i>-passive, frequently regarded as a problematic construction in the linguistic literature. It is my contention that a lexically-based approach is insufficient to account for the appropriateness of the <i>get</i>-passive, since pragmatic and contextual factors are also crucial to ascertain its acceptability. Basing my discussion on corpus data, I will analyze how the semantics of the <i>get</i>-passive interacts with the semantic properties of verbs from five semantic types that can be integrated within the construction: <sc>affect</sc>, <sc>giving</sc>, <sc>motion</sc> (<sc>take</sc>-subtype), <sc>corporeal</sc> and <sc>annoying</sc>. Along the lines of Goldberg &amp; Jackendoff (2004: 563), I suggest that the <i>get</i>-passive should be treated as a family of constructions in order to account for its semantic and pragmatic properties. Two main subconstructions will be posited: the causative <i>get</i>-passive and the spontaneous <i>get</i>-passive.


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