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Abstract

Abstract

Cross-linguistically, very few complete sentences, as opposed to a myriad of phrases, lexicalize to become words. I here offer an account for this skewed distribution, along the lines of Construction Grammar, by analyzing a set of mono-clausal sentences in Hebrew which have indeed become – or are on the verge of becoming – words. I adopt the distinction between categorical and thetic propositions, and show that only the latter can evolve into words. A thetic – unlike a categorical – proposition, much like a verb-phrase, enables a tight semantic bonding between its components to form an ‘interpretatively cohesive’ unit, which may lead to semantic change. An evaluative thetic – unlike a categorical – proposition is comment-like, hence ‘semantically-incomplete’, and in need of a topic from prior discourse to predicate on, which may lead to a change in grammatical status. All verb-phrases meet these two criteria but only few sentences do, hence, I argue, the skewed distribution of sources from which new words evolve.

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2022-11-08
2022-12-07
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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keywords: Construction Grammar ; thetic/categorical distinction ; Hebrew ; lexicalization
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