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Changes in Argument Structure

The Transitivizing Reaction Object Construction

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Tamara Bouso-Rivas

This book deals with the characterization and history of the reaction object construction (ROC), as in Pauline smiled her thanks. The ROC consists of an intransitive verb followed by a nonprototypical object that expresses a reaction such that the whole syntactic unit acquires the extended meaning "express X by V-ing" (e.g. "Pauline expressed her thanks by smiling"). The hypothesis is put forward that ROCs follow a similar pathway as other valency-increasing constructions such as the cognate object construction and the way-construction, occurring first with more transitive-like verbs and then expanding to intransitives. Historical corpus evidence from several complementary data sources confirms this idea and reveals striking parallelisms with the way-construction.

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