Volume 24, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 1384-5845
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1171




The present study is concerned with the Dutch -construction (e.g. ‘one should watch out’; literally: ‘it is to.watch.out blown’). Its aim is to give the first systematic, usage-based description of the most important formal and semantic, as well as some diachronic aspects of this severely understudied construction. Based on 1,258 instances from the SoNaR-corpus of contemporary written Dutch, the construction’s composition, schematicity, and its realized type-productivity (i.e. the number of infinitives combined with ) are described, allowing for a more precise definition of the construction’s general meaning. Additional qualitative diachronic corpus data from the DBNL are used to give a plausible explanation of how ‘blown’ could have acquired its non-literal, modal reading in this construction. While it is very likely that this reading developed from an earlier metaphorical reading of infinitive + , this source construction alone cannot explain the attested jump in productivity in the 1950s and the sudden occurrence of the subject and copula ‘it is’ in the construction. This suggests that the -construction may in fact be a multiple source construction.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): construction grammar; infinitives; multiple source construction
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