Ong, Teresa Wai See (2012)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.
This study is a corpus-based investigation into the diachronic development of non-finite complementation clauses. My aim is to find out how the complementation clauses of two semantically comparable verbs, prevent and stop have changed over the past 200 years in American English. Two specific variants were considered: (i) noun phrase + from + -ing (e.g. She prevented / stopped it from eating.) (ii) noun phrase + -ing (e.g. She prevented / stopped it eating.) All the complementation clauses were extracted from the 400 million word Corpus of Historical American English. The prevent and stop complementation clauses were examined in respect of quantitative changes from 1810 to 2009, with focus on the overall frequencies and proportional values. The length of noun phrases within the complementation clauses was analysed based on Rohdenburg’s Complexity Principle (1996). Discussion was made in relation to a pattern of linguistic change in progress, densification of content. A diachronic distinctive collexeme analysis (cf. Hilpert, 2006) was performed based on the -ing forms of the complementation clauses in order to explore their semantic domain preferences at different time periods. Analysis results were interpreted with respect to the process of language change as they showed that linguistic change in American English is still in progress.
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