Jenny Audring (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) MMM 5 abstract – Fréjus 15-18 Sept. 2005
Contextually restricted constructional idioms
Dutch features adjectives of the form uit + past participle that can be used as predicative adjectives only, as in sentence (1) in which gebabbeld is the past participle of the verb babble ‘to chat’: (1) We zijn uitgebabbeld we are uit-PTCP-chat-PTCP ‘We are done with chatting’
This is a productive pattern in Dutch, as will be shown by data from the recently released Corpus of Spoken Dutch (2004; 9 million words). These adjectives are combinations of the preposition/ particle uit which has an abstract perfective meaning here, with participles that are used as adjectives. There is no verb uitbabbelen from which this adjective could have been derived, nor can the participle gebabbeld ‘chatted’ as such have a property meaning of this sort. In short, this pattern is a morphological constructional idiom in the sense that its constituents are existing elements derived by existing and productive morphological patterns, and yet, the combination of these patterns has irreducible properties of its own: (2) [[uit] [[ge [x]V d]PART]A]A ‘done with V-ing’
Moreover, this kind of complex morphological constructional idiom is contextually restricted to being used in predicative position only. A second example of a contextually restricted constructional idiom is the use of participles and infinitives with the particle aan, as illustrated by the following examples: (3) Jan komt aan-ge-fiets-t / aan-fiets-en John comes at-PTCP-cycle-PTCP / at-cycle-INF ‘John cycles toward (the speaker)’ *Jan fietst aan ‘John to-cycles’
Particle verbs of the type aan-V can only be used after the verb komen ‘to come’ (with which they form a kind of serial verb). There is no meaning difference between using the past participle or the infinitival form. Since we cannot use particle verbs such as aanfietsen without komen, this is again a case of a contextually restricted constructional idiom which depends for its proper use on both morphological and syntactic information. The sentence Jan komt gefietst in which aan is lacking is odd. That is, the presence of both the verb komen and that of the particle aan are required for wellformedness. These observations will be argued to support a general theory of Construction Morphology in which morphological and syntactic structures receive similar representations as constructions of varying degrees of abstractness, and in which constructions may be mixed in the sense that both morphological and syntactic information has to be specified. Our analysis will be supported by spontaneous language data from the Corpus of Spoken Dutch.