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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: At the Interface of Grammaticalisation and Lexicalisation: The Case of Take Prisoner
Author: Eva Berlage
Institution: Universität Hamburg
Linguistic Field: Semantics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: Brinton & Traugott (2005) and Brinton (2008) have suggested that light verb constructions of the type take a look (at) are instances of grammaticalisation. This article shows that this is because the emphasis has been on the verb take. Exploring the light verb construction take prisoner, we see that one and the same construction involves both lexicalisation and grammaticalisation processes. For grammaticalisation, the focus will be on the semantic bleaching of take and the productivity of the pattern take + NP. For the lexicalisation of the construction, we will focus on the increasing fixedness of the collocation take prisoner, evident from the decreasing acceptability of the pattern make prisoner, and on the decategorialisation of the original NP prisoner, which is manifested in the loss of plural -s inflection in prisoner. The article further investigates the decategorialisation of prisoner, revealing that the word order of prisoner(s) relative to its complement NP (e.g. take the men prisoner(s) vs take prisoner(s) the men) has a considerable effect on the speed of plural s-deletion.


This article appears IN English Language and Linguistics Vol. 16, Issue 1.

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