A multivariate analysis of the structural variability of existential noun phrases
Keywords:There-existential construction, existential noun phrase, complexity, structural variation, corpus evidence
The literature on there-existential construction (e.g. ‘there are no graves, son’) is extensive, especially those showing the complexity involved in its internal structure, meaning and interpretation. Whereas very little is known about its internal structure variability, and how that might provide important contributions to the question of complexity. The present study takes on this task by providing a corpus-based structural variability account of the internal structure of English there-existential construction, showing that the complexity involved in the processing of meaning of there-existential construction is related to the variability of its internal structure. Drawing on empirical evidence from a lesser known variety of English representing Indian variety of English, the study shows that the complexity underlying the meaning and interpretation of there-existential is related to its internal structure. With a focus on the varying degree of its noun phrase (NP), the study finds that the structural complexity of the NP is related to the semantic complexity of the overall clause structure. Also, it is shown that quite a number of linguistic factors interact in influencing the internal structure and meaning of there-existential construction.
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