Corpus Pattern Analysis of of-Construction Phrase Transformations to the Genitive

  •  Ai Inoue    


While it is well known that phrase transformations take place, there has been very little concrete research on phrase transformations and the associated rules. To go some way to filling this gap, this paper used corpus pattern analysis (CPA) to examine of-construction phrases, as exemplified by on the face of it and on its face, and elucidate the syntactic manipulation in the semantic and functional features of on its face. The CPA revealed that on its face was semantically the same as on the face of it (i.e., seemingly), but that the meaning of face, i.e., appearance, had more stress in the on the face of it phrase than the end-focus. Further, on its face was found to more often co-occur with legal lexical items such as constitutional, invalid, and lawful, and to be used more often in legal contexts. The reason on its face was derived from on the face of it was found to be because of the end-focus and the influence of semantically compatible phrases, such as for the sake of ~ and for ~’s sake, on behalf of ~ and on ~’s behalf. However, it should be noted that not all phrases that have of-constructions can be transformed into the genitive; for example, for the life of me does not transform into *for my life because *for my life is most often literally interpreted. It appears that linguistic economy is the most probable reason for phrase transformations from of-constructions to genitive constructions.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1923-869X
  • ISSN(Online): 1923-8703
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: bimonthly

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