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Sentences of the type Max elbowed his way through the crowd have not been studied in detail hitherto. The systematic investigation undertaken here shows that the verbs appearing in them have a large lexical extension. These sentences are also productive, so that an unlimited number of new verbs of the paradigm are constantly being created; the verbs constitute an open class. Three new results have been obtained. The first shows how certain apparently inexplicable uses of it (as in beat it!) can be related to a pro-nominalization observed in the paradigm. The second shows how nouns like cannonball, steamroller, skyrocket, etc., can become verbs. The third result is a verification, by a systematic investigation of the English lexicon, of the common semantic intuition that these sentences can be paraphrased by others like Max made his way through the crowd by using his elbows.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 1988


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