Swarm Construction

1. General

1.1. Label

swarm construction

1.2. Reasons for construction status

Independently meaningful partially productive argument structure construction

1.3. Examples

(1) The garden is swarming with bees. (Fillmore 1968: 48)

(2) The driver, now glowing with impatience, agreed volubly, You're absolutely right, he snarled. [BNC A06]

(3) Morgan fell to the ground, trembling with fear. [BNC B1X]

2. Language Information


Similar constructions exist in German, Italian, French and presumably also other related languages, although not all of the subtypes exemplified in (1)-(3) are conventionalised to the same degree.

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 swarm construction consists of a subject, a semantically compatible intransitive verb (cf. Salkoff 1983; Zeschel 2007) and an oblique prepositional complement headed by with. Constituency

[VP [NP__] [VP [V__] [PP [P with ] [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 swarm construction comes in three related functional variants:

  • a construction for locative predication (cf. (1))

  • a construction for abstract property ascription (cf. (2))

  • a causal adjunct construction (cf. (3))

4.1.2. Internal Frame

Property ascription Event

(event type) Participants

variant (1): SUBJ = LOC, OBL = THM

variant (2): SUBJ = EXP, OBL = STIM

variant (3): SUBJ = EXP, OBL = STIM 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


The construction carries a non-cancelable intensity implicature: All three subtypes convey the implication that the subject referent is associated with great quantities/strong degrees of the entity/phenomenon denoted by the head of the oblique NP.

4.2.2. Internal

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

BNC and web data Methods of Analysis

Large-scale quantitative corpus study (cf. Zeschel 2007)

4.6. Literature

Dowty, D. 2000. ‘The garden swarms with bees’ and the fallacy of ‘argument alternation’. In: Y. Ravin and C. Leacock (eds.), Polysemy. Theoretical and computational approaches. pp. 111-28. Oxford: OUP.

Fillmore, C. 1968. The case for case. In: Bach, E & Harms, R., eds. Universals in Linguistic Theory. NY: Holt Rinehart & Winston

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

Rohdenburg, G. 1974. Sekundäre Subjektivierungen im Englischen und Deutschen. Vergleichende Untersuchungen zur Verb- und Adjektivsyntax. Stuttgart: PAKS.

Salkoff, M. 1983. Bees are swarming in the garden: a synchronic study of productivity. Language 59, 2, 288-346.

Zeschel, A. 2007. Delexicalisation patterns: a corpus-based approach to incipient productivity in fixed expressions. Doctoral dissertation, Universität Bremen.

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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