As Predicative

1. General

1.1. Label


1.2. Reasons for construction status

The as-predicative is a complex-transitive argument-structure, the formal/semantic features of which cannot be said to be entirely predictable from its constituent parts (see syntactic properties and constituents). Most notably, the object-complement/predicative is marked by the particle 'as' (while other complex-transitive argument structures exhibit unmarked object-complements/predicatives) and exhibits an unusual formal versatility (i.e. can be realised by NP, AP, NFC (ing), PP). This can neither be predicted from the syntactic behaviour of 'as' outside of the construction, nor from the syntactic properties of other complex-transitive constructions. In addition, the central meaning of the construction shows various extensions parallel to what is known from other argument-structure constructions.

1.3. Examples

(1.a) Does he regard that as a serious problem? (ICE-GB) (1.b) She described herself as the last surviving example of the Victorian professional aunt. (ICE-GB) (1.c) Someone has already defined the incident as a notifiable accident. (ICE-GB)

(2.a) She regards her clients’ business as confidential. (ICE-GB) (2.b) It is not possible for us to see this image as holy. (ICE-GB)

(3.a) Uhm, does everyone see it as just being involved in dance? (ICE-GB) (3.b) We see the hard ecu as being extremely useful in the fight against inflation. (ICE-GB) (3.c) It is a matter for the jury to what extent they regard the revisions as fundamentally effecting a difference.(ICE-GB)

(4.a) Prince Charles regards [...] what has been projected as entirely at odds with the historical character of the surroundings. (ICE-GB)

2. Language Information


Construction occurs in all standard varieties of English, but investigations have been carried out for British English only.

2.2. Language


2.3. Variety

Though instances of the construction exhibiting the most closely associated verbs, i.e. the collexemes regard, describe, see, know, treat, define, use, view, can also be found in informal spoken discourse, there is a clear tendency towards the written formal registers for the majority of instances (cf. e.g. collexemes like recognize, categorize, perceive, appoint, interpret, class, etc.)

2.4. Speech Community

(to be filled out if the construction is used in a particular speech community)

2.5. Language Contact

(to be filled out if the construction influenced by constructions from another languages)

2.6. Time Period

argument structure construction of present-day English

2.7. Stage of Acquisition

This ASC is acquired very late, when the complete network of complex-transitive argument structure constructions, notably the causative resultatives, are in place. No instances attested in children under 7 in the CHILDES data base of both British and American English.

3. Form

3.1. Syntax


The as-predicative is special among the complex-transtive argument-structure constructions of English, as its object-related complement/predicative is introduced by the comparative particle 'as', which, in contrast to a preposition, can take NPs (ex 1), AP (ex 2), non-finite clauses (ex 3) and even PP (ex 4), see subtypes of the construction.

3.1.2. Internal Valency Constituency

Verb + NP-obj + as + complement constituent (NP/AP/PP metaph/NFC)

3.1.3. External Category

argument structure construction Structural Position

3.2. Morphology


(general comments on the morphological properties of the construction)

3.2.2. Internal Morphological Properties of Elements

(morphological properties of elements)

3.2.3. External Morphological Properties of Construction

Construction shows a clear correlation with the passive construction, i.e. is significantly more frequently unified with the passive construction than transitive verbs in the ICE-GB in general are.

4. Meaning

4.1. Semantics


The comparative particle in the as-predicative profiles an element which constrains the potential relations holding between the object and object-complement, such that the construals the as-predicative allows present only a subset of the construals allowed by complex-transitive constructions with unmarked object complements where the exact nature of this relation is left unspecified. Semantically, the particle 'as' represents a comparative particle (like 'than'), which formally reflects the comparisons and resulting similarity judgements, on the basis of which the subject ascribes a property to or imposes a categorization on the object referent. This formal indication of a comparative element leaves room for potential alternative categorizations/specifications and highlights the subject’s mental activity itself, the result of which, i.e. the property ascription or categorization achieved, is thus rendered as made with some reservation, hence less than (very or absolutely) certain. The comparative meaning of the particle contributes directly to the exclusion of resultative readings of that construction – hence the incompatibility of 'as' with the typical verb classes appearing in the causative resultatives and with object-complements specifying resultant states.

The major constructional meaning associated with the most inclusive/general schema of the as-predicative expresses the subject’s epistemic stance towards the (atemporal) relation between the entities referred to by the direct object, and the entities, properties or states-of-affairs referred to by the as-complement. The latter provides either a classification or a further specification of the object-referent depending on which of the subschemas of the construction is instantiated. The verb 'regard' stands out for providing a relatively generic meaning, which is variously elaborated, partly at a more specific level, by most of the lexical items attracted to the construction. The following verb clusters are presented in the order of the collostruction strength of the item most closely associated with the construction. The items in the first cluster are mental verbs roughly synonymous with 'regard' and comprise 'know', 'view', 'recognis|ze', 'consider' and 'think of', as well as the perception verbs 'see', 'view' and 'perceive' in their (non-literal) cognition readings. In addition to its relatively generic central meaning, the as-predicative also has acquired various extended constructional meanings, in which the element of epistemic stance is also present, and even reinforced in various ways. The speech-act verbs/verbs of saying in the second cluster of items, represented by 'describe', 'define', 'portray', 'hail', 'denounce' and 'depict', elaborate the more generic meaning of the first cluster in that they – unlike those of the first cluster – present the relation between the object and its complement- in a more explicit and externalized, though still subjectively determined way. Next in collostructional prominence are items such as 'categoris|ze', 'class', 'diagnose', which go beyond the meaning of the first group in that the relation specified explicitly classificational. In other words, the results of the respective activities denoted by the verbs of this can be paraphrased by NPobject is a member of category XPcomplement. The last group of items elaborating the 'regard' sense is presented by such verbs as 'interpret' and 'take', which reinforce the subjective component rendering the subject’s classification or property ascription particularly cautious, tentative, and questionable.

Other verb groups instantiate meanings which cannot as easily be subsumed under the 'regard' sense, though they are related to it. With these verb uses, this relation is induced by the most general constructional schema itself, while the verbal meanings in isolation are clearly distinct. One such major group is represented by verbs like 'use' and 'treat', and related items from the respective semantic fields, which require that the referents of the object and object-complement respectively are clearly kept distinct, with any classifications or property ascriptions being at best provisional, temporary and strongly situation-bound: Someone’s using or treating X as Y does not amount to equating X with Y. Another group contains for example the verbs 'appoint', 'nominate', 'adopt', and 'establish', which refer to the ascription of a role or status. Though the activities denoted by the verbs in both of these groups do not reduce to just mental ones, the element of the subject’s epistemic stance surfaces in different form as the subject’s awareness of the object’s provisional or temporary association with what is specified in the object complement. Relevant examples from ICE-GB:

(5.a) Refunded expenses are not treated as earnings. (5.b) Use your size as a weapon. (5.c) Can they appoint me as their agent? (5.d) And they elect someone else as the leader of the party. (5.e) The county was established as a unit of mapping.

4.1.2. Internal Frame

(frame evoked) Event

(event type) Participants

Subject-NP referent needs to be a human agent, either an individual or a group/institution. Object-NP referent - as the theme - can be realised by all kinds of concrete and abstract entities. The as-complement cannot denote a permanent resultant state of the object-NP referent. Truth-Conditional Information

(information on the truthconditional properties of the construction) Negation

Construction can unify with all negation constructions in the same way as other argument-structure constructions. Scope

(description of the scope of the construction)

4.1.3. External Semantic Class

(semantic category) Relation to Construction-External Semantic Elements

(description of semantic relations outside of the construction) Truth Relations

(information on the truthconditional relationships of the construction) Semantic Presuppositions

(semantic presupposition) Semantic Entailments

(semantic entailments)

4.2. Pragmatics


(general comments on the pragmatic behaviour of the construction)

4.2.2. Internal

(internal pragmatic properties)

4.2.3. External Indexical Properties Deixis

(linguistic and extralinguistic domains indexed) Intertextuality

(intertextual links evoked) Interpersonal Function

(politeness, other-self, etc.) Speaker attitude

(modality, epistemic, emotion) Speech Act Function

(illocutionary force) Rhetorical Function

(rhetorical potential) Style

(stylistic features) Pragmatic Presuppositions / Implicature

(modality, epistemic, emotion)

4.3. Discourse Properties

4.3.1. Internal Turn Constructional Status

(status as TCU) Within-Turn Position

(turn-initial, -medial, -final position, etc.)

4.3.2.External Sequential Context

(position in sequence) Position in Text- and Dialogue-Structure

(position in larger discourse structure) Sequence Type

(type of sequence)

4.4. Information Structure

4.4.1. Internal Topic - Comment

(contribution to topic-comment structure) Focus

(placement of focus)

4.4.2. External Signaled Information Status

(status of information as given, new, inferable, etc.) Information Status Requirements

(information status requirements)

4.5. Data

4.5.1. Introspection

Introspective data are made use of in a very limited way only (e.g. for contrasting attested verb types with constructed examples of the same type in another construction.

4.5.2. Authentic data Source data properties

The description derives from an exhaustive analysis of all instances of the as-predicative in the ICE-GB. Methods of Analysis

First search string used: [VP complex transitive V [PP as]], resulting in 687 true hits comprising tokens of 107 verb types. Second search: Manual coding of all occurrences of 'as' coded as a preposition in the corpus, resulting in 1,131 true hits comprising tokens of 261 verb types. A parallel search of the BNC sampler resulted in 1251 tokens of 309 verb types.

Methods of analysis: collostruction method (collexeme analysis), language production experiment (sentence completion task) with 64 adult native speakers of British English, language comprehension experiment (paced reading experiment) with 33 adult native speakers of American English

4.6. Literature

Stefan Th. Gries, Beate Hampe and Doris Schönefeld (2005), Converging Evidence: Bringing together experimental and corpus data on the association between verbs and constructions. Cognitive Linguistics 16-4: 635-676

Stefan Th. Gries, Beate Hampe and Doris Schönefeld (to appear), Converging Evidence II: More on the association between verbs and constructions. In: Sally Rice and John Newman (eds.), Empirical Methods in Cognitive Linguistics. Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications

Hampe, Beate (to appear), Webs of Meaning. Metaphor and constructional ambiguity in the causative resultatives. In: Hans-Jörg Schmid (ed.), Windows to the Mind. CLR. Berlin/NY: Mouton de Gruyter

5. Relations to other constructions

5.1. Subtypes

5.1.1. Diachronic

(relations to subtypes of the construction through time)

5.1.2. Synchronic

4 subtypes attested in the corpus, relating to 4 different formal realisations of the object-related as-complement itself (see also examples (1) to (4) above). (1) Verb + NP-obj + as + NP (2) Verb + NP-obj + as + AP (3) Verb + NP-obj + as + NFC [-ing] (4) Verb + NP-obj + as + PP (metaph.)
The centrality of each of these for the super-type has not been investigated so far, neither have any of the sub-types been separately investigated.

5.2. Supertypes

5.2.1. Diachronic

(relations to more general constructions through time)

5.2.2. Synchronic

(relations to more general constructions)

5.3. Paradigmatic Relations

The construction is related to other complex-transitive argument-structure constructions, the object-related complements/predicatives of which are realised by unmarked adjectival phrases or noun phrases (attributive construction, denominative construction). Though there is some overlap in the verb classes that can appear in constructions with marked or unmarked object-complements/predicatives, only very few verbs are capable of appearing in several complex-transitive argument-structure constructions both with and without comparative 'as' (if they do, there are asymmetries in typicality of the given verb type for the construction).

In general, constructions with unmarked object complements can realise a wider range of meanings than as-predicatives. This range does not only include resultative meanings (cf., e.g., Goldberg 1995; Boas 2003), but also the main meaning of the as-predicative itself. (6a,b) provide examples, in which the latter is actually expressed by the construction with unmarked object complements. It is thus correct in principle to say that this meaning can be expressed by complex-transitive constructions with and without overtly marked object complements. Nevertheless, it is by no means the case that the relevant verb sets are identical for both constructions. In fact, only very few verbs (6a), can actually appear in both constructions. Usually (and unpredictably so), verbs typically occurring in the construction with unmarked object complements cannot appear with as (cf. (6b)); and vice versa: verbs typically occurring in the as-predicative cannot occur in the construction without the particle (cf. (6c)).

(6.a) In India, the rushed visit was considered (as) rather unseemly. / Once you are declared (as) fit, get started. /Miss Francois has labelled (as) the pill a human pesticide. / If you are registered (as) blind or partially sighted […]

(6.b) She found the maths (*as) incredibly hard. / That was after what might be called (*as) a false start. / Do you think it (*as) well-performed?

(6.c) *Wheelchairs can be seen obstacles. / *Pathological behaviours are viewed symptoms of a disease. / *The figures have been described alarmist.

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