Conative Construction

1. General

1.1. Label

Conative Construction

1.2. Reasons for construction status

Independently meaningful partially productive argument structure construction

1.3. Examples

(1) Carol cut at the bread. (Levin 1996: 156)

(2) She kicked at the chair-leg and the black, angry words burst out of her. [BNC AC4]

(3) Tabitha lunged at the controls. [BNC CJA]

2. Language Information


The construction also exists in German (oblique complement headed by nach )

2.2. Language


2.3. Variety

(to be filled out if the construction belongs to a particular geographic, social, situational, or stylistic variety or to a particular genre)

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

(time period of construction)

2.7. Stage of Acquisition

(comments on age and circumstances of the acquisition)

3. Form

3.1. Syntax


(general comments on the syntactic properties of the construction)

3.1.2. Internal Valency

The conative construction is a clause level construction consisting of a subject, a semantically compatible verb (cf. Goldberg 1995; Levin 1996) and an oblique complement headed by at . Constituency

[VP [NP__] [VP [V__] [PP [P at ] [NP__]]]]

3.1.3. External Category

clause-level construction Structural Position

(syntagmatic relationships with other constructions (but see also 4.3))

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

(morphological properties of the construction itself)

4. Meaning

4.1. Semantics


The conative construction expresses that the subject participant directs the action encoded by the verb at the participant encoded by the oblique complement. However, there is no entailment that the intended result of the action is actually accomplished.

4.1.2. Internal Frame

Object manipulation Event

(event type) Participants

SUBJ: AGT, OBL: PAT Truth-Conditional Information

(information on the truthconditional properties of the construction) Negation

(peculiar behaviours with respect to negation) 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 used)

4.5.2. Authentic data Source data properties

(description of corpus (publicly available/self-compiled, channel/medium, register, genre, text type, speaker info (number of interlocutors, gender, age, background, (non-)native, etc.))) Methods of Analysis

(source material size/length, number of tokens considered, sampling, search string, sample rate, number of retrieved hits, cleaning procedures)

4.6. Literature

Dixon, R.M.W. 1991. A New Approach to English Grammar, on Semantic Principles. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Goldberg, A.E. 1995. Constructions. A Construction Grammar Approach to Argument Structure. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Levin, B. 1993. English Verb Classes and Alternations. A Preliminary Investigation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Van der Leek, F. 1996. The English conative construction: A compositional account. Papers from the Regional Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society 32: 363-378.

5. Relations to other constructions

5.1. Subtypes

5.1.1. Diachronic

(relations to subtypes of the construction through time)

5.1.2. Synchronic

(relations to subtypes of the construction)

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

(relations to constructions of the same category)

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