A great deal of evidence based on a great many instances: A usage-based comparative corpus study of two English nominal constructions

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In a reference grammar of English for Danish students, Hjulmand & Schwarz (2015: 137) state that, when translating from Danish, “'en hel del' is a good/great deal of in front of uncountable nouns, but a good/great many in front of countable nouns in the plural”.This claim calls for empirical support. With significant distributions of countnouns vs. non-count nouns, a study of COCA suggests that the claim holds up atleast for American English. However, the claim ultimately belongs to what Harder (2015; see also Gregory 1967) calls incomplete accounts. In the perspectiveof usage-based linguistics, such a claim would leave out informationpotentially useful to Danish learners of English. Drawing on principles fromconstruction grammar (e.g. Goldberg 1995; Croft 2001) and variationist cognitive sociolinguistics (Pütz et al. 2014), this paper presents a usage-based comparativecorpus study of the two constructions. Drawing on data from COCA, a distinctivecollexeme analysis (Gries & Stefanowitsch 2004) shows that, not only do the constructionsdiffer in terms of preference for count vs. non-count nouns, they also havedifferent preferences for specific individual nouns and semantic classes ofnouns. Moreover, variety-centered multidimensional scaling analyses andheatmaps indicate that the patterns of use of the constructions displayregister variation. In addition, a lexical richness analysis revealsdifferences in constructional productivity.

Original languageEnglish
Book seriesSelected Papers from UK-CLA Meetings
Pages (from-to)249-272
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event6th UK Cognitive Linguistics Conference - Bangor University, Bangor, United Kingdom
Duration: 18 Jul 201622 Jul 2016


Conference6th UK Cognitive Linguistics Conference
LocationBangor University
CountryUnited Kingdom

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Humanities - corpus linguistics, monolithism, nominal construction, register variation, usage-based construction grammar, cognitive sociolinguistics

ID: 173780667