Academic journal article International Journal of English Studies

The Metaphoric Motivation of the Caused-Motion Construction: A Case Study of Perception

Academic journal article International Journal of English Studies

The Metaphoric Motivation of the Caused-Motion Construction: A Case Study of Perception

Article excerpt


This article addresses the caused-motion construction from the theoretical perspective of the Lexical Constructional Model (LCM). Within the LCM, the way in which lexical templates fuse with constructional templates is coerced by internal and external constraints. Internal constraints specify the conditions under which allow predicates to take part in a construction. External constraints take the form of high-level metaphoric and métonymie operations that affect lexical-constructional subsumption. This proposal makes use of the theoretical tools of the LCM with a view to exploring instantiations of the construction with verbs of perception. Apart from internal constraints, high-level metaphor will be found to play a prominent role in the construal of the examples under scrutiny. The study will suffice to point out that the semantics of the caused-motion construction needs to be understood with reference to the underlying metaphoric mappings.

KEYWORDS: caused-motion construction Lexical Constructional Model, high-level metaphor, lexical- constructional subsumption verbs of perception.


Este artículo examina la construcción de movimiento causado desde la perspectiva teórica del Modelo Léxico Construccional (MLC). En el MLC, la fusión de las estructuras léxicas con representaciones construccionales se regula por principios restrictores internos y externos. Los principios internos especifican la compatibilidad conceptual entre las estructuras léxicas y construccionales. Los principios externos regulan la posibilidad de que se produzcan procesos metafóricos y metonímicos en el proceso de subsunción. Haciendo uso de las herramientas analíticas proporcionadas por el MLC, esta propuesta explora el comportamiento de la construcción con verbos de percepción. El análisis de los ejemplos mostrará el papel fundamental de la metáfora de alto nivel, así como de otros factores de restricción internos. Este estudio nos permitirá concluir la necesidad de considerar el rol de la metáfora en la semántica de la construcción de movimiento causado.

PALABRAS CLAVE: construcción de movimiento causado. Modelo Léxico Construccional, metáfora de alto nivel, subsunción léxico-construccional, verbos de percepción.


This article examines the metaphoric representation of the caused-motion construction. The caused-motion construction has been central to many recent studies on argument structure within Cognitive Grammar (Goldberg, 1995, 2006).1 The construction describes a change of location of an entity caused by the action denoted by the verb (e.g. The child kicked the ball into the garden). By definition, all verbs of motion should be expected to take part in the caused-motion construction, in much the same way as verbs which are not associated to motion should represent marginal uses. However, one does not need to search far to see that this is not the case. Certain verbs of motion cannot be used in many instances of the construction (e.g. hurry, speed), while many others unrelated to motion work perfectly (e.g. frighten, laugh). Current theories on the syntax-semantics interface develop incomplete views on why this kind of incompatibilities occurs. Projectionist approaches (Dik, 1989, 1997; Van Valin and LaPolla, 1997; Van Valin, 2005) hold that the syntactic structure is projected from the lexical representation of the verb. Nevertheless, as has been made obvious in Construction Grammar circles (Kay and Fillmore, 1999; Goldberg, 1995, 2006; Croft, 2001), argument structure is insufficient to explain the occurrence of certain predicates (e.g. the resultative sense of see in I would like to see the work finished soon). Constructions may contribute arguments to yield the semantic interpretation of a particular expression, creating constraints on the way predicates fuse with the syntactic structure. But constructionist views have not specified what it is that licenses or blocks the integration of predicates into syntactic structures. …

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