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Constructional Change in English
Developments in Allomorphy, Word Formation, and Syntax


Part of Studies in English Language

  • Date Published: October 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107552074

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About the Authors
  • Martin Hilpert combines construction grammar and advanced corpus-based methodology into a new way of studying language change. Constructions are generalizations over remembered exemplars of language use. These exemplars are stored with all their formal and functional properties, yielding constructional generalizations that contain many parameters of variation. Over time, as patterns of language use are changing, the generalizations are changing with them. This book illustrates the workings of constructional change with three corpus-based studies that reveal patterns of change at several levels of linguistic structure, ranging from allomorphy to word formation and to syntax. Taken together, the results strongly motivate the use of construction grammar in research on diachronic language change. This new perspective has wide-ranging consequences for the way historical linguists think about language change. It will be of particular interest to linguists working on morpho-syntax, sociolinguistics and corpus linguistics.

    • Readers learn how a constructional perspective goes beyond established ways of analyzing language change
    • Shows how 'constructional change' captures phenomena that are not covered by standard definitions of 'grammaticalization', 'word order change' or 'sound change'
    • Readers are encouraged to replicate analyses and apply these methods in their own research
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'A rigorous and lucidly-written application of quantitative corpus linguistics to language change from the perspective of Construction Grammar, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in historical linguistics.' Stefan Th. Gries, University of California, Santa Barbara

    'Hilpert's scholarly, engaging monograph is essential reading for those working in historical and cognitive linguistics. The compelling arguments and the quantitative methodology adopted establish new directions for related research.' Graeme Trousdale, University of Edinburgh

    'Hilpert's study is a milestone in the historical linguistics of English. Maintaining due respect for the philological tradition, the author breaks new ground in methodology, through the application of sophisticated corpus-statistical tools (some of them developed by himself), and in theory, through demonstrating how construction grammar helps us understand diachronic processes.' Christian Mair, University of Freiburg

    'In this stimulating book, Hilpert combines the theoretical approach of Construction Grammar with sophisticated corpus methodology to investigate the processes of language change … The book will provide thought-provoking reading for scholars and advanced students concerned with language variation and change, constructional approaches to language, and corpus methodology.' Jill Bowie, English Language and Linguistics

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107552074
    • length: 248 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 153 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.38kg
    • contains: 46 b/w illus. 17 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Data and methodology
    3. Constructional change in allomorphy
    4. Constructional change in word formation
    5. Constructional change in syntax
    6. Conclusions.

  • Author

    Martin Hilpert, Université de Neuchatel, Switzerland
    Martin Hilpert is Assistant Professor of English Linguistics at the University of Neuchâtel.

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