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date: 26 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article considers diachronic collostructional analysis, a method for studying semantic and stylistic change in grammatical constructions, based on the Corpus of Historical American English (COHA). The term “collostructional analysis” refers to a family of methods used to study interrelations between grammatical constructions and their lexical collocates. Whereas much work in collostructional analysis has focused on verb-headed constructions, such as modal auxiliaries, causatives, the ditransitive construction, or the passive, relatively little attention has been paid to the nominal domain. This article focuses on the English many a noun construction, which undergoes a recessive change over the past two centuries and which has been chosen because it deviates from more canonical noun phrase patterns and shows several restrictions. First, determiners are not usually preceded by quantifiers. Second, the construction is limited to many; semantically related elements such as few, little, much, or lots do not form analogous patterns. Third, no elements may intervene between many and a.

Keywords: diachronic collostructional analysis, grammatical constructions, Corpus of Historical American English, lexical, collocates, noun phrase, quantifiers, determiners, linguistics, recent change

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