The extending scope of construction grammar pages:141-179
Language is a complex adaptive system. One of the properties of such systems is that they rely on what in biology is called ‘degeneracy’, a technical term for the phenomenon that structurally different elements can fulfill the same function. In this article, it is suggested that degenerate strategies help languages sustain instability in times of syntactic changes. Taking a Construction Grammar approach, it is shown that so-called horizontal relations in constructional networks -- in which related constructions in a functional domain are mutually defined by differential values they take on a set of grammatical parameters -- can be transmitted through time, even if the specific grammatical parameters on which they are defined are under threat. Evidence is drawn from two different domains: argument realisation in experience processes and adverbial subordination.