Germanic Future Constructions

A usage-based approach to language change

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This study offers a Construction Grammar approach to the historical development and modern usage of future constructions in English, German, Dutch, Danish, and Swedish. On the basis of corpus data, constructions such as English <i>be going to</i> or German <i>werden</i> are analyzed as symbolic units that convey a range of temporal and modal meanings. A special focus lies on the main verbs that occur with these constructions. Statistical co-occurrence patterns between constructions and lexical items guide the semantic analyses in this study: It is argued that a construction that conventionally occurs with main verbs such as <i>write</i> or <i>speak</i> differs functionally from a construction that typically occurs with verbs such as <i>rain</i> or <i>increase</i>. The same approach is also applied historically: If a construction co-occurs with different main verbs at subsequent stages in time, this is seen as a sign of semantic change.

Subjects: Germanic linguistics; Cognitive linguistics; Syntax; Theoretical linguistics

  • Affiliations: 1: Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies

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