Construction Grammar vs. Lexical Grammar: A case study of the modal load in if-conditionals

Gabrielatos, Costas (2011) Construction Grammar vs. Lexical Grammar: A case study of the modal load in if-conditionals. International Symposium on the Sociology of Words: Lexical Meaning, Combinatorial Potential and Computational Implementation, 1st - 2nd December, Murcia.


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Corpus based examinations of the extent of modal marking (modal load) in if-conditionals in the written BNC (Gabrielatos 2007, 2010) have revealed that they have a significantly higher modal load than average, as well as a higher modal load than indirect interrogatives with if and whether, concessive conditionals with even if and whether, as well as non-conditional bi-partite constructions with when and whenever. More importantly, if-conditionals show a higher modal load than conditionals with other subordinators (assuming, in case, on condition, provided, supposing, unless). It is also noteworthy that the protases of if-conditionals have a modal load at least equal to that of the baseline – despite protases being already modally marked by if (not calculated in the modal load). The picture becomes more complicated, and more interesting, when examining the modal load of the subordinate and matrix parts of the constructions in focus – particularly those containing if as their subordinator. The explanations for the emerging modal load patterns are sought in the tenets of two recent linguistic theories: Construction Grammar and Lexical Grammar. More precisely, what is sought is whether the modal load of if-conditionals (and other constructions with if) can be explained by the collocations (and semantic preference) of the word if (Lexical Grammar), or by the nature (and composition) of individual constructions (Construction Grammar).

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: corpus ; theory testing ; conditionals ; modality ; construction grammar ; lexical grammar
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PE English
Divisions: English Language & Literature
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Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2012 13:16

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