Volume 28, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0929-998X
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9765
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This article deals with the Reaction Object Construction (ROC), as in , where an intransitive verb (), by adding an emotional object (), acquires the extended sense “express X by V−ing” (i.e. “She expressed disbelief by smiling”). Earlier research has suggested a diachronic connection between the ROC and Direct Discourse Constructions (DDCs) of the type (Visser 1963–1973). More recently, Bouso (2018) has shown that the ROC is primarily a feature of 19th century narrative fiction. This paper aims to bring together these insights. On the basis of a self-compiled corpus and De Smet’s , it investigates the productivity of the ROC in 19th and 20th century fiction, and the role of DDCs in its development. The results reveal a peak in the productivity of the ROC that coincides with the development of the sentimental novel, and a correlation between the development of the ROC on the one hand and of those DDCs that have been mistakenly hypothesised to be its single source constructions on the other. Extravagance is proposed as a triggering factor for the use of the ROC in the 19th century as an alternative to DDCs.


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