On the Initial Development of the One 's Way Construction : A Construction Grammatical Perspective

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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to provide an analysis of the early stages of development of the one's way construction from the perspective of construction grammar. The construction has been discussed extensively in modern linguistics, but most studies have not paid attention to its historical development. Against this background, Israel's (1996) work is noteworthy because it examines the historical development of the construction in terms of a usage-based approach to grammar. While Israel succeeded in showing that various kinds of verbs began to gradually appear in this construction, his work using examples collected from the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has certain drawbacks from both empirical and theoretical aspects because the OED is not a representative corpus. In this paper, based on examples retrieved from Early English Books Online (EEBO), the one's way construction was found to become frequent from the seventeenth century onwards, about two centuries after 1400, which is when the first instance of the construction is claimed to have appeared in English according to the OED. Frequency-based investigation of the present construction also reveals that examples following the [[make] their why through (in-, on-) to NP] and [[force] their way through (in-, on-) to NP] patterns are predominant in the early stages of development, and the former became frequent about 50 years before the latter. The extension from the prototype [[make] their way through NP/ (in-, on-) to NP] to the [[force] their way through NP/ (in-, on-) to NP] patterns can be explained in terms of a usage-based model commonly assumed in construction grammar. That is, with the increase in token frequency of the prototype, the schematic meaning with prototypical flavor (ROAD BUILDING TO CLEAR/AVOID SOME OBSTACLE] (schema (1) in this paper) emerged. As the instances with reference to this schema increase in token frequency, another schematic meaning [MOVEMENT BY FORCE TO CLEAR/AVOID SOME OBSTACLE] (schema (2) in this paper) was derived from schema (1). The extension from [ROAD BUILDING] to [MOVEMENT BY FORCE] is cognitively and semantically motivated. Cognitively, road building, or creating a new route, often requires the exertion of power. Semantically, the directional phrase, ·which is obligatory in this construction, refers to a goal to which the subject referent has to create a physically or psychologically nontrivial route, and it is reasonable to assume that the entrenchment of the construction leads to the requirement of a means of movement.

This study is supported in Part by Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C) from Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS): Grant No. 24520057.

Journal

  • IVY

    IVY 46 49-73, 2013-11-30

    名古屋大学英文学会

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