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Title: Constructional contamination effects. Evidence from mixed-effects logistic regression modeling of the Dutch partitive genitive
Authors: Pijpops, Dirk
Van de Velde, Freek
Issue Date: 12-Sep-2014
Conference: SLE edition:47 location:Poznan date:11-14 September 2014
Abstract: Deflection has been rampaging in the history of Dutch, but in this long-term process, the genitive proves to be remarkably resilient. One of the tenacious relics is the partitive genitive of the type ‘iets moois’ (‘something beautiful’). The construction has drawn a lot of scholarly attention (Schultink 1962: 79-80; Kester 1996: 199-224; Broekhuis & Strang 1996; Hoeksema 1998; Booij 2010: 223-228; Broekhuis 2013: 420-426), but these accounts are mostly based on limited amounts of data, often gathered through introspection, yielding an oversimplifying description of the ins and outs of the construction. In our talk, we argue that the realisation of the genitival -s morpheme is subject to variation, and is influenced by both morphosyntactic factors and ‘lectal’ (i.e. regiolectal, register …) factors. Taking a usage-based perspective, we argue that the variation cannot be circumvented in providing an adequate description (see also Bybee 2010; Geeraerts & Kristiansen, forthc.). Our study is the first to bring to bear substantial empirical data to the theoretical discussion on the construction at issue. We looked at corpus data (ConDiv, see Grondelaers et al. 2000), and used mixed-effects logistic regression to assess the multifactorial nature of the realisation of the partitive genitive. Our results show that the following variables have an impact on the realisation of the -s: the type of adjective, the regional variety, the register, the type of quantifier used, and the frequency of the phrase. We also looked at interaction effects and at the effect of the random factor in our model. Probing deeper into the relevant variables, we come up with statistical evidence for what can be called ‘constructional contamination’, in the form of (i) analogical influence of neighbouring constructions and (ii) influence of the regiolectal provenance of the lexical types involved. What we mean by (i) is that historically unrelated constructions that bear a superficial resemblance to the construction at issue (in our case an adverbial construction with similar surface realisation: ‘iets belangrijks uitleggen’ (‘explain something important’) vs. ‘iets helder uitleggen’ (‘explain something clearly’)) can exert an influence on how the target construction is realised. What we mean by (ii) is that the regional provenance of constituting parts (i.e. lexemes) in a construction can exert an influence on the morphological realisation of the target construction, even if the construction is used by language users with a different regiolectal background. In our study southern speakers have a stronger tendency to drop the genitive -s, but less so when they are using ‘northern’ lexemes, and vice versa. This effect holds even if the regional provenance of the lexemes is subtle, and unlikely to be a shibboleth of a regionally recognisable type of speech. This all goes to show that, in line with exemplar-based theories of language, prior use of constructions leaves a (context-rich) trail in the mind of the language users.

Booij, G. 2010. Construction Morphology. Oxford: Oxford university press.
Broekhuis, H. 2013. ‘Adjectives and Adjective Phrases’. In: H. Broekhuis (ed.), Syntax of Dutch. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University press, 419-461.
Broekhuis, H. & A. Strang. 1996. ‘De partitieve genitiefconstructie.’ Nederlandse taalkunde 1(3): 221-238.
Bybee, J. 2010. Language, usage, and cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Geeraerts, D. & G. Kristiansen. Forthcoming. ‘Variationist linguistics’. In: E. Dabrowska & D. Divjak (eds.), Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Grondelaers, S., Deygers, K., Van Aken, H., Van den Heede, V. & D. Speelman. 2000. ‘Het CONDIV-corpus geschreven Nederlands’. In: Nederlandse Taalkunde 5(4): 356-363.
Hoeksema, J. 1998. ‘Adjectivale inflectie op -s: geen geval van transpositie’. In: E. Hoekstra & C. Smits (eds.), Morfologiedagen 1996. Amsterdam: P. J. Meertens-Instituut, 46-72.
Kester, E-P. 1996. The Nature of Adjectival Inflection. Dissertation University of Utrecht.
Schultink, H. 1962. De morfologische valentie van het ongelede adjectief in modern Nederlands. Den Haag: Van Goor. Doctoral dissertation, University of Leiden.
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IMa
Appears in Collections:Quantitative Lexicology and Variational Linguistics (QLVL), Leuven

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