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Re-thinking FNI: On null instantiation and control in Construction Grammar

Journal article
Authors Benjamin Lyngfelt
Published in Constructions and Frames
Volume 4
Issue 1
Pages 1-23
ISSN 1876-1933
Publication year 2012
Published at Department of Swedish
Pages 1-23
Language en
Keywords Coinstantiation, Construction Grammar, Control, FrameNet, Genericity, Implicit Argument, Null Instantiation
Subject categories Linguistics


This paper discusses the classification of null instantiation phenomena in Construction Grammar and proposes a different treatment of so-called free null instantiation (FNI). Based on e.g. control data, different types of alleged FNI are shown to be more accurately classified as definite (adjunct control), generic (e.g. tough constructions), or unspecified for interpretation (e.g. passives). A striking pattern is that general constructions, such as infinitives and gerunds, license unspecified null instantiation (simply NI), whereas more specific control constructions are associated with a definite (DNI) or generic (GNI) interpretation. Hence, the paper proposes a null instantiation taxonomy that distinguishes (unspecified) NI and the specific subtypes definite (DNI), indefinite (INI), identity of sense (ISNA), and generic (GNI) null instantiation.

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