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A cognitive functional account of pure intransitive classification

Chrispin, Lucy 2021. A cognitive functional account of pure intransitive classification. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis explores the classification of pure intransitives by investigating their grammatical patterning and semantic descriptions. Pure intransitives are defined in this work as one participant constructions that lack a direct object or any transitive alternate. To achieve a broad understanding of pure intransitive classification, three studies were carried out in a multi-faceted approach. Overall, 2950 instances from the Corpus of Contemporary American English (Davies 2008-) were analysed using Corpus Pattern Analysis (Hanks 2004a), and grammatical and lexical aspectual analysis. The first study provides empirical evidence for a category of pure intransitive verbs that represents physiological and psychological experiences (e.g., coughing, crying), collectively referred to as Behaviours in this work. The results reveal consistent lexico-grammatical features across the verbs (animacy, situation type, intransitivity, perfective aspect), confirming that there is a case to argue for Behaviours as a verbal category. The second study explores the extent to which Behaviours can be empirically differentiated from another pure intransitive category, one representing actions and happenings (e.g., walking, competing). This second category is referred to as ‘Intransitive Actions’. Collectively, lexical aspect and animacy are the best predictors in distinguishing between the two verb categories. These results suggest two sub-types of pure intransitives: instances with activity or semelfactive situation type and animate subjects (Behaviours); and instances with accomplishment or culmination situation type and/or inanimate subjects (Intransitive Actions). The final study empirically determines what lexico-grammatical properties and semantic description can be associated to the pure intransitive construction. Results reveal an inherent activity meaning of pure intransitives, with extended meanings of other situation types (e.g., accomplishment). Verbal semantics, participant animacy, and elements in the post-verbal part of the pattern are prominent influences on the aspectual meaning of the intransitive. This research concludes that dynamicity and durativity are significant features of the intransitive construction. The bare intransitive construction has an inherent activity meaning, with extended meanings depending on various clausal elements.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 11 May 2022
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2023 01:59

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