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From words to constructions Although many linguists believe that polysemy specifically affects the meaning of individual words, it has been noticed that the meanings of words often change when these words appear in different syntactic structures.
Recent research in what is called “constructional linguistics” has made it clear that more or less systematic semantic variations that are connected to consistent syntactic patterns are numerous and non-trivial , and also pose a significant challenge to the generative models of syntax.
The famous applicative construction found in most Bantu languages is illustrative of this.
This is an extension of the concept of polysemy from individual word meanings to grammatical constructions.
Such an exploration of the relationship between syntactic constructions and polysemy is one of the most promising areas of future research.
is a lecturer in the Department of Linguistics, University of Zimbabwe.
Obtained her PhD in 2001 from Edinburgh University.
Her main research interests lie in the areas of interfaces of syntax-semantics-pragmatics.
She is also interested in the documentation and analyses of endangered languages, especially local languages found in her own country.
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