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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.252) Chapter 8 Conclusions
Spreading Patterns

Hendrik De Smet

Oxford University Press

The preceding analyses have focused on a recurrent pattern of change. Following its emergence, a new pattern spreads to different environments at different times, diffusing over the grammar of the language. Such diffusional changes raise a number of questions: How does diffusional change relate to the synchronic organization of grammar? How does diffusional change proceed, and why does it occur? This chapter recapitulates how the preceding chapters contributed to answering these questions and ties the different elements together into a coherent model of diffusional change in grammar. It argues that the system of complementation is organized around a great number of constructions, which are layered in terms of schematicity. This means that the matching of complement types to predicates and the choices between complement types in specific discourse contexts are motivated, yet also that there is no neat one-to-one relation between organizing principles and complement types. This makes the architecture of the system of complementation highly complex; to make matters more complicated still, it is not only grammar proper that determines complement choice but also a set of additional pragmatic and processing constraints. The progression of diffusion is partly determined by the complex architecture of grammar and the system of complementation and partly by factors that are incidental to the structure that is spreading. The latter set of factors is arbitrary from the point of view of complementation as a functional system.

Keywords:   diffusional change, complementation, grammar, complement types

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