ROLLS! Seth Mehl talks to us about Light Verb Constructions (LVCs)
Join us for ROLLS this Wednesday at 1pm in Jubilee G36 - we'll be joined by Seth Mehl from Sheffield University. He'll be speaking on Light Verb Constructions; Seth draws on innovative corpus approaches, and talks about some of the meaning relations that we and our students have been studying this semester. For more information, read on...
English light verb constructions (LVCs), such as make decisions and take action, have been an object of linguistic study for nearly a century (cf. Poutsma 1926, Jespersen 1954, Huddleston and Pullum 2002). In this talk, I present new research on English LVCs with make, take, and give, as evinced by three components of the International Corpus of English, representing Singagpore English, Hong Kong English, and British English (ICE; cf. Greenbaum 1996). In particular, I demonstrate the value of two corpus semantic methods: corpus onomasiology, and identity evidence. Corpus onomasiology examines, in naturally occurring language, language users' preferences for selecting different forms that express a given meaning (cf. Geeraerts et al. 1994). Corpus onomasiology is particularly useful for LVC study insofar as LVCs have been defined as expressing equivalent meaning to a related verb: for example, make decisions is equivalent to decide; take action is equivalent to act (v.). Identity evidence (Mehl 2013), a relatively new approach in corpus semantics, involves naturally occurring language data that resembles classic identity tests for polysemy (cf. Kempson 1977: 130; Palmer 1981: 106; Cruse 1986: 62; Cruse 2004: 104). Identity evidence in this case demonstrates polysemous usage of light verbs. I employ onomasiological evidence and identity evidence together to show that there is remarkable consistency in light verb semantics across these three varieties of World Englishes, even in extremely nuanced features of semantics in use. I also present the groundbreaking argument that not all light verbs are light in the same way, but instead exhibit degrees of lightness.