Volume 31, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0176-4225
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9714
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This article investigates lexical expansion in the HAVE and BE perfect in Dutch. It is known from previous research that early perfects show more lexical restrictions than their modern counterparts. The aim of this article is to uncover how perfects change their collocational preferences over time. The present study tackles this issue taking a quantitative corpus perspective. The empirical basis for this study is a sample of HAVE and BE perfects taken from a corpus of Dutch legal texts (1250–1800). The sample is analyzed using the method of diachronic distinctive collexeme analysis. The statistical analysis indicates that both perfect constructions show fine-grained shifts in collocational preferences over time. The observed lexical expansion has the following properties: it proceeds (a) gradually, (b) through semantically related verb classes, (c) away from a prototype. These properties are accounted for making use of insights from prototype theory and construction grammar.


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