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Language-specific tendencies towards morphological or syntactic constructions

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In this study, we present a corpus-based comparison of the use of intensifying constructions in written L1 Dutch (Corpus Hedendaags Nederlands) and written L1 French (Frantext). We subsequently discuss intensification in Dutch as a second language (L2 Dutch) by French-speaking learners (Leerdercorpus Nederlands). The analysis adopts a constructional perspective (Goldberg 2006, Tomasello 2003) and aims to contrast French and Dutch preferences for morphological and syntactic intensifying constructions. Extending on the “Germanic Sandwich Hypothesis” (Van Haeringen 1956, Lamiroy 2011), we expect to find: i) more morphological intensifying constructions in Dutch, such as ‘elative’ compounds (e.g. knalrood ‘completely red’; Hoeksema 2012) and ii) more syntactic constructions in French, such as adverbial modification (e.g. tout rouge ‘completely red’) and adjective reduplication (e.g. rouge rouge ‘completely red’). The present study thus serves a twofold purpose: investigating whether the synthetic vs. analytic character of Germanic vs Romance languages holds in the domain of intensification, and on a more applied level, it contributes to identifying possible difficulties for French-speaking learners of Dutch in this field. Our corpus study partly confirms the expected difference in the use of morphological intensifying constructions between L1 Dutch and L1 French, with significantly more morphological intensifying constructions in L1 Dutch than in L1 French. Adverbial modification remains the default intensifying construction in both languages however. Whilst L2 Dutch productions displayed an overuse of intensifying adverbs (partly due to the overuse of ‘all-round’ intensifiers such as heel ‘very’), the learners did however also use elative compounds, a typical Germanic intensifying construction.
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Keywords: Construction Grammar; Dutch/French; Intensifying constructions; Learner corpus research

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2017

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  • Het tijdschrift Nederlandse Taalkunde publiceert bijdragen aan de wetenschappelijke studie van de Nederlandse taal in de ruimste zin van het woord. Nederlandse Taalkunde streeft ernaar bijdragen te publiceren vanuit zoveel mogelijk verschillende vakgebieden van de Nederlandse taalkunde en vanuit zoveel mogelijk verschillende benaderingen binnen die vakgebieden. Alle soorten bijdragen (artikelen, squibs en boekbesprekingen) kunnen in het Engels of het Nederlands geschreven zijn. Artikelen van Nederlandse Taalkunde verschijnen in Open Access, na een periode van drie jaar.

    Nederlandse Taalkunde publishes scholarly articles in both Dutch and English about linguistics, concerning the Dutch language, and in the broadest sense. The journal aims to include contributions from all subdisciplines within linguistics. In addition to research articles Nederlandse Taalkunde also publishes overviews and discussions on contemporary subjects within the field. Articles in Nederlandse Taalkunde are published in Open Access, after a period of three years.
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