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Auteur: Rodrigo GARCIA ROSA

A Construction Grammar And Corpus Linguistics Approach To Lexical Vagueness: The Case Of Get

Abstract/Résumé: Throughout the history of linguistic studies many were the attempts to account for the meaning of linguistic expressions, but the vast majority of these studies relied solely on semantic primitives to classify these items under well-defined categories (Teubert 2009; Geeraerts 2002). However, the observation of language data in use demonstrates that some linguistic expressions deviate from clear-cut classifications in that they are highly dependant on morphosyntactic and discursive contexts for a full specification of their meaning (Sinclair 1991; Wittgenstein 1984). In light of this characteristic, only more recently has the specialized literature on polysemy (Lakoff 1987) and vagueness (Evans & Green 2006; Tuggy 1993) recognized the importance of the role played by context in the equation of meaning. According to Tuggy (1993), some expressions are defined as vague, rather than polysemous, if the content of these items can only be retrieved via the context of use more than via their representation in the mental lexicon of speakers. Therefore, polysemous expressions are traditionally viewed as being related to an array of different but connected conventional senses, whereas vague expressions are characterized as lexically empty items whose content can only be reached via a constructional analysis in context (Goldberg 1995, 2006). In the constructional approach to lexical meaning (Goldberg 1995, 2006), vague items such as the unspecified noun THING (Evans & Green 2006:340) or the light verb GET may receive their meaning constructionally, that is, restrictions traditionally believed to be imposed by the lexicogrammatical status of fully specified items, such as the specification of the number of arguments or the assignment of specific participant roles (Fillmore 1982; Goldberg 1995), will alternatively be requirements of the Construction to which the item is associated. More specifically about GET, its vagueness of senses is filled by the meaning of the construction to which this verb is associated or by the phraseological composition between GET and its immediate nominal complements (Neves 2002, 2011; Athayde 2011; Langer 2004, 2005). For that matter, a more contextual and cognitive approach to lexical vagueness may profit from a corpus-based approach (McEnery & Hardie 2012), since this can provide the quantitative evidence needed by theoretical linguistic generalizations made by the constructional approach. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to re-evaluate the treatment given to the status of lexical vagueness by focusing on the verb GET in the English language through a constructional approach (Goldberg 1995, 2006), and through the supporting quantitative analysis provided by corpus linguistics tools (Danielsson 2007).