From the VVINGPP construction to the VVING pattern. A descriptive account


In the first part of this paper, we assess Goldberg’s (2006, pp. 50-52) account of the English syntactic pattern she labels “VVingPP construction” (e.g. The toddler went screaming down the street), which is based on five constraints concerning argumenthood, verb types, transitivity, extended meaning, and constituency. On the basis of an analysis of data collected from dictionaries, corpora, and literary works, we argue that Goldberg’s account needs to be refined. A much more complex picture emerges from our analysis than is assumed by Goldberg, whose constraints are often violated. Drawing on these observations, in the second part of the paper, we propose, in the case at hand, replacing Goldberg’s notion of ‘construction’ with that of pattern, intended as a cluster of occurrences whose common (formal and semantic) traits must be captured at a more abstract level. Moreover, we observe that the instantiations of the pattern are related via family resemblance not only with each other but also with occurrences which do not feature a PP. This suggests that a more general VVing pattern can be posited, which portrays the integration of two events. At the same time, the data also suggest that low-level generalisations of limited scope can still be drawn over clusters of occurrences characterized by the interaction between V, Ving, and (possibly) PP. By focusing on both the former and the latter generalisations, it is possible to notice that the event integration can be described in terms of causality and/or temporal coextension.



Nella prima parte di questo contributo, viene esaminato il resoconto offerto da Goldberg (2006, pp.50-52) del pattern sintattico inglese da lei definito “VVingPP construction” (e.g. The toddler went screaming down the street), che si basa su cinque restrizioni riguardanti predicazione, tipi di verbo, transitività, significato esteso e costituenza. Sulle basi dell’analisi dei dati raccolti da dizionari, corpora e opere letterarie, si mette in luce che il resoconto di Goldberg è troppo semplicistico e, in ultima analisi, non particolarmente accurato. Infatti, dalla nostra analisi emerge un quadro molto più complesso di quanto assunto da Goldberg, le cui restrizioni sembrano essere violate troppo facilmente per essere mantenute. Nel contempo, si osserva la presenza di una ragguardevole varietà semantica nei dati. Sulla base di queste osservazioni, nella seconda parte dell’articolo, si propone che la nozione di ‘costruzione’ di Goldberg potrebbe non essere ideale  e si possa sostituire con quella di pattern, inteso come un gruppo di occorrenze i cui tratti comuni (formali e semantici) devono essere catturati ad un livello più astratto. Inoltre, si osserva che le rappresentazioni del pattern sono collegate da somiglianze di famiglia non solo tra loro, ma anche con occorrenze che non presentano un sintagma preposizionale. Questo suggerisce che si possa postulare un pattern più generale, VVing, che esprime l’integrazione di due eventi. Allo stesso tempo, i dati suggeriscono anche che possono essere formulate generalizzazioni meno astratte di portata più limitata, caratterizzate dall’interazione tra V, Ving ed (eventualmente) PP. Concentrandosi sia sulle une che sulle altre generalizzazioni, è possibile notare che l’integrazione tra i due eventi può essere descritta in termini di causalità e/o coestensione temporale.



DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v26p81

Keywords: VVing; participle; construction; pattern; family resemblance.


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