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Rules and Exceptions

Using Exceptions for Empirical Research in Theoretical Linguistics


Christopher Beedham, Warwick Danks and Ether Soselia

This book assembles a collection of papers first presented at the Summer School and Conference on the Method of Lexical Exceptions held at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, 2-8 September 2007, which explored an area of linguistics now referred to as ‘the method of exceptions and their correlations’.
Recognition of the work of Saussure was impeded during his lifetime by the Junggrammatiker (Neogrammarians) and their view of exceptions, but this book incorporates exceptions into a Saussurean approach. Exceptions to rules are treated here not as something wilful and inexplicable, but as a clue to what has gone wrong in the original rule.
The topics covered are the passive, irregular verbs, morphology, transitivity, light verb constructions, resultative verbs, compound nouns, phonology, colour terms, historical-comparative reconstruction, language teaching, Saussurean structuralism and the approach of the Junggrammatiker to exceptions. The languages addressed are English, Arabic, Georgian, Turkish, Russian, the Cushitic languages and German. Grammar and linguistics are usually thought of as purely theoretical disciplines, but this book demonstrates how to use exceptions to conduct ‘experiments’ in the manner of the natural sciences, which leads empirically to better theory.
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11. On the Discourse Functions and Contrastive Phraseology of Equivalent Light Verb Constructions Involving ‘make’ and ‘take’



11On the Discourse Functions and Contrastive Phraseology of Equivalent Light Verb Constructions Involving ‘make’ and ‘take’


The verbs make and take are used in a wide range of light verb constructions (LVC) such as make / take + bath, call, joke, etc. The alternation of make / take in these constructions can usually be explained by the meaning of the light verb (make as creation, take as reaction). However, a small set of expressions do not appear to follow this pattern: make / take + decision, note, effort, time. In this paper, I examine the phraseology of these expressions in the British National Corpus. Using the framework of Systemic Functional Grammar (SFG), I show that this particular group of LVCs are (mostly) used in verbal group complexes of the form: make / take + N + to V. In SFG terms, this is a ‘grammatical metaphor’ in which the LVCs express an evaluation of the following predicator. I argue that it is only when we analyse the extended phraseology of these ‘exceptions’ that we can see how these expressions still broadly follow the regular patterns of English.


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