Article published in:Subjects in Constructions – Canonical and Non-Canonical
Edited by Marja-Liisa Helasvuo and Tuomas Huumo
[Constructional Approaches to Language 16] 2015
► pp. 175–203
Categorization and semantics of subject-like obliques
A cross-linguistic perspective
This chapter’s underlying framework is one of functionalist cognitive linguistics. It suggest a categorization of non-prototypical trajector (subject) constructions into syntax-, gram- and lexeme-driven ones depending on the nature of the domain that triggers the oblique case-marking on the trajector argument. Additionally, a unified semantic account is proposed, which is based on the comparison with causative events. The structure of these events consists of an antecedent subevent (typically implicit) and a subsequent subevent. This study argues that constructions with non-prototypical trajectors (subjects) refer to consequent events. That is, all three types of constructions exhibit an invariant semantic core; they conceptualize the event as being a (causally) consequent event and imply the existence of a causally antecedent event. The differences between the three types pertain mainly to the referential properties of the antecedent event and its main participant: while with the syntax-driven type the antecedent event is explicit, referential and conceptualized onstage, with the gram-driven type it is implicit, non-referential and offstage, though confined to a particular concept. The lexeme-driven type only implies the existence of an antecedent event; it does not, however, commit any assessment on the conceptualization of this event.
Published online: 14 January 2015
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