LINGUIST List 27.1095

Tue Mar 01 2016

Confs: Historical Ling, Morphology, Semantics, Syntax/Brazil

Editor for this issue: Anna White <>

Date: 29-Feb-2016
From: Tiago Torrent <>
Subject: Constructionalization and Constructional Changes
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Constructionalization and Constructional Changes

Date: 05-Oct-2016 - 07-Oct-2016
Location: Juiz de Fora - Minas Gerais, Brazil
Contact: Maria Luiza Braga
Contact Email: < click here to access email >
Meeting URL:

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics; Morphology; Semantics; Syntax

Meeting Description:

This theme session discusses case studies of constructionalization and/or constructional changes of linguistic phenomena. We adopt a constructionalist approach to language change and conceptualize language as a network of constructions and links among them. The concept of network is not limited to the lexicon and is dynamic, which is crucial in explaining linguistic changes.

Constructions are characterized as symbolic pairings of form and meaning and are analyzed according to their size, their degrees of phonological specificity and their types of concept, dimensions which are conceived as being gradient. This means that they can be atomic, complex or intermediate on the level of size; substantive, schematic or intermediate, on the dimension of phonological specificity; and contentful, procedural or intermediate on the dimension of type concept.

Three factors are relevant to the analyses to be presented in this Theme Session: schematicity, productivity and compositionality. Schematicity can be discussed int terms of slots and their filling ; produtivity, according to Bybee (2010) , has to do with frequency, type frequency and token frequency. Traugott and Trousdale quote Barodal (2008) who says that productivity “pertains to (partial) schemas and concerns i) their extensibility , the extent to which they sanction other less schematic contructions, and ii) the extent to which they are constrained” (2013: 17). Compositionality correlates to the transparency of the link between form and meaning. Traugott and Trousdale maintain that in many cases change results in reduced compositionality (op. cit.)

Some of the papers in this Theme Sessions focus on cases of constructionalization, whereas others on constructionals changes and in this regard it is interesting to distinguish these two different types of linguistic changes. According to Traugott and Trousdale (2013), Constructionalization is the creation of formnew-meaningnew (combinations of) signs. It forms new type nodes, which have new syntax or morphology and new coded meaning in the linguistic network of a population of speakers (2013: 22). Constructional change is a change affecting one internal dimension of a construction. It does not envolve a new node.(2013:26)

In analyzing their phenomena, we are aware of the potential effects of the linguistic change on the reconfiguration of the network and of the fact that change occurs when an innovation first introduced by an individual is replicated in a community.

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