Parts of speech as constructions: The case of Hebrew “adverbs”

Bracha Nir, Ruth A. Berman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

The paper re-appraises accepted classifications of linguistic elements into word-level constructions on the one hand and in terms of Parts-of-Speech systems on the other from the point of view of Construction Grammar (CxG). We focus on a particular adverbial construction in Hebrew, with the surface form PrepOC, where “Prep” is one of the four basic prepositions in the language and OC stands for fixed forms of a lexically restricted group of Nouns, Verbs, or Adjectives. We analyze these constructions as having an “intermediate” status, in terms of elements lying between those that express concrete conceptual content and those that activate an abstract grammatical schema. The special nature of these and other intermediate word-level constructions in Hebrew is demonstrated experimentally in sentential contexts, and their functional, structural, and distributional properties are analyzed in the discursive context of a large corpus of authentic texts, both oral and written. Evidence from on-line processing strategies and speaker judgments combines with discourse based usage to confirm the special status of Hebrew PrepOC expressions as word-level constructions occupying neither the atomic-substantive nor the complex-schematic end of the syntax-lexicon continuum. Furthermore, we propose that these constructions analyzed here as “pragmatically/discoursally motivated”, along with other “intermediate” constructions, function as textually motivated Parts-of-Discourse rather than as semantically autonomous or structurally dependent Parts-of-Speech.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-274
Number of pages33
JournalConstructions and Frames
Volume2
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010

Keywords

  • Adverbs
  • Coining constructions
  • Discourse markers
  • Hebrew
  • Intermediacy
  • Part-of-Speech categorization
  • Parts-of-Discourse
  • Prep+OC grammaticization

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