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Light verb semantics in the International Corpus of English: onomasiological variation, identity evidence and degrees of lightness

  • SETH MEHL (a1)

This study employs corpus semantic techniques to examine the semantics of light verbs and light verb constructions (LVCs) in Singapore English, Hong Kong English and British English via their respective components in the International Corpus of English (ICE; Greenbaum 1996). The study investigates onomasiological variation (see Geeraerts et al. 1994) by identifying selection preferences in natural use between light verb constructions and their related verb alternatives. In addition, identity evidence is forwarded as a valuable corpus semantic tool, in which instances of naturally occurring language data resemble classic identity tests for polysemy. Via a close reading and manual semantic analysis of thousands of instances of light make, take, give and their semantic alternatives, this study finds remarkable consistency across the three varieties of World Englishes (WEs) in onomasiological preferences, even in extremely nuanced features of LVCs. Onomasiological evidence and identity evidence also suggest the new finding that the three light verbs and their constructions exhibit degrees of lightness, and that these degrees of lightness are extremely consistent across regional varieties.

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English Language & Linguistics
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