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It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

It's Been Said Before "examines why certain phrases become clichés and why they should be avoided -- or why they still have life left in them."

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Sounds Fascinating

By J. C. Wells

How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.

Academic Paper

Title: Grammatical Relation Probability: How Usage Patterns Shape Analogy
Author: Esther L. Brown
Institution: University of Colorado at Boulder
Author: Javier Rivas
Email: click here TO access email
Linguistic Field: Morphology
Subject Language: Spanish
Abstract: It has been argued speakers' knowledge of the probabilities of certain phones, words, and syntactic structures affects language production (Bell, Brenier, Gregory, Girand, & Jurafsky, 2009; Tily, Gahl, Arnon, Snider, Kothari, & Bresnan, 2009). This study provides evidence for effects of grammatical relation probabilities by identifying significant effects on verb morphology in the Spanish presentative [haber ‘there (be)’+ NP] construction stemming from nouns with varying proportion of use in subject function. In addition to this novel type of probability (grammatical relation), we present calculations that are not context-dependent but cumulative, reflecting speakers' overall experience with these nouns in the grammar. We conduct variationist analyses on corpora of spoken Puerto Rican Spanish. Our results reveal that nouns with a high probability of subject function promote the analogical leveling of haber by increasing the likelihood of reanalysis of the object as subject of the construction. We interpret these results as suggesting speakers possess lexicalized knowledge of grammatical relation usage patterns.


This article appears IN Language Variation and Change Vol. 24, Issue 3.

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