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Spreading PatternsDiffusional Change in the English System of Complementation$
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Hendrik De Smet

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199812752

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812752.001.0001

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(p.19) Chapter 3 Complementation
Spreading Patterns

Hendrik De Smet

Oxford University Press

In his typological study of complementation, Noonan (1985) writes that “Complementation is basically a matter of matching a particular complement type to a particular complement-taking predicate.” This matching problem captures one of the main issues on which functionally and cognitively oriented research in the area of complementation has centered. Central to this research is the question of why the different complement types in a language distribute differently over the inventory of complement-taking predicates and how language users decide which complement type to combine with which predicate. This chapter discusses the major currents in solving the matching problem. Section 1 focuses on the initial cognitive-functionalist attempt to formulate general semantic principles in order to account for the use and distribution of different complement types. Section 2 presents a first reaction against this view, inspired by variationist and corpus-based research that highlights the multiplicity of factors involved in complement choice. Section 3 proposes another revision, inspired by constructional models of language, which consists in drawing attention to the locally organized character of the system of complementation. This approach can reconcile the demands of both the semanticist and the variationist approaches.

Keywords:   matching, complement types, language, complement-taking predicates, variationist research, corpus-based research, constructional models, construction grammar

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