A constructional account of genre-based argument omissions Journal Article uri icon



  • Authors like Fillmore 1986 and Goldberg 2006 have made a strong case for regarding argument omission in English as a lexical and construction-based affordance rather than one based on general semantico-pragmatic constraints. They do not, however, address the question of how grammatical restrictions on null complementation might interact with broader narrative conventions, in particular those of genre. In this paper, we attempt to remedy this oversight by presenting a comprehensive overview of genre-based argument omissions and offering a construction-based analysis of genre-based omission conventions. We consider five genre-based omission types: instructional imperatives (Culy 1996, Bender 1999), labelese, diary style (Haegeman 1990), match reports (Ruppenhofer 2004) and quotative clauses. We show that these omission types share important traits; all, for example, have anaphoric rather than indefinite construals. We also show, however, that the omission types differ from each other in idiosyncratic ways. We then address several interrelated representational problems posed by the grammatical treatment of genre-based omissions. For example, the constructions that represent genre-based omission conventions must interact with the lexical entries of verbs, many of which do not generally permit omitted arguments. Accordingly, we offer constructional analyses of genre-based omissions that allow constructions to override lexical valence constraints.

publication date

  • December 31, 2010

Full Author List

  • Ruppenhofer J; Michaelis LA

Other Profiles

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 158

end page

  • 184


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