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1. Asymmetry in English multi-verb sequences: A corpus-based approach

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Abstract

The English <i>V and V </i>construction provides an ideal opportunity to study asymmetry in the properties of the verbs which enter into each of the two verb slots of this construction. This paper explores the asymmetry evident in this construction by utilizing two corpora of spoken and written New Zealand English (the Wellington Written Corpus and the Wellington Spoken Corpus). The most striking asymmetry which emerges from the corpus data is the dominance of motion verbs and change of position verbs as V1 and their absence in V2. The V2 position shows a preference for verbs referring to activities involving a stationary position. The corpus leads us, therefore, to recognize move (in order) to do as the primary meaning associated with the <i>V and V </i>construction. While speakers of English may sense that this meaning is commonly associated with the <i>V and V </i>construction, only a corpus-based study such as this one is able to quantify the degree to which this meaning is, in fact, present in this construction. The paper also considers the nature of the semantic integration associated with the construction. Examples such as <i>go and tell </i>and<i>go and visit</i>, though superficially similar, illustrate different kinds of semantic integration. Coordinated verbs, in general, present a typical grammaticalizing context, exemplified by the <i>try and V </i>construction in English, as well as examples such as <i>go and prove me wrong </i>typical of spoken language.

References

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