Corpus Linguistics Case study - University of Manchester

Corpus Linguistics Case study - University of Manchester

Corpus Linguistics Case study B Levin, G Song & BTS Atkins (1997) Making sense of corpus data: a case study of verbs of sound. Int. J. Corpus Ling. 2:23-64 Background Lexical semantics word meaning related to word behaviour Patterns of word behaviour can isolate grammaticallyrelevant elements of meaning Corpus evidence Provides evidence of what is possible (though not the opposite) Including frequency information to indicate how widespread

May alert researcher to previously ignored or discounted properties Intuitions can be developed and systematically explored, misconceptions corrected 2 Case study: verbs of sound ie verbs which denote the emission of sound clatter, crackle, creak, groan, gurgle, honk, hoot, jingle, rattle, rumble, squawk, squeak, squeal, thud, whir, whistle (16) Chosen from ~120 verbs so labelled in Levin (1993), as a representative (heterogeneous) set, and deliberately excluding speech act verbs like speak or shout

3 Three questions What is it about the meaning of a verb of sound that allows us to know how it will behave? Why are there some properties shared by all of these verbs, and some shared by only some of them? How can this be the case if syntactic behaviour is semantically determined? 4 1. Intuitions and assumptions

Based on various dictionaries, and two linguistic studies They constitute a coherent verb class All describe an event in which s.o./sthg. emits a sound Each verb denotes a specific sound, implying specific acoustic properties, eg volume (squawk ~ whir) pitch (squeak ~ rumble) resonance (rattle ~ thud)

duration (gurgle ~ honk) Or a commonly heard sound, eg animal noise Syntactically: intransitive in core sense, subject being the emitter of the noise 5 2.1 Traditional dictionaries Typically give the sound emission as the first, basic, sense Often with a brief description, eg (LDOCE) crackle to make a repeated short sharp sound groan to make a long deep sound whistle to make a high or musical sound Description of similar words are often differential,

eg (LDOCE) squeak to make a very short high noise or cry that is not loud squeal to make a long loud high sound or cry 6 2.1 Traditional dictionaries Definitions may specify typical subject or condition clatter: heavy hard objects crackle: like something burning in a fire Or how they are made By hitting or falling on a hard surface (thud, crack) By two hard surfaces rubbing roughly against each other (creak, squeak)

By repeated hitting of something (rap, rattle) 7 2.1 Traditional dictionaries Besides basic sound emission meaning, three other uses are often cited: Expressing motion accompanied by sound (eg the train rumbled across the bridge) Introducing direct speech Expressing the causation of the sound (eg he crackled the newspaper, he clattered the bricks) sound emitter is object of sound One transitive use widely found but rarely mentioned in dictionaries: The fans squeaked their excitement

He whistled his disapproval 8 2.2 Linguistic studies Many verbs can be both transitive and intransitive: which usage is basic? Transitive verbs can be ergative (where patient becomes subject eg open) or accusative (where subject remains the agent eg eat) Basically intransitive verbs are classified as unaccusative or unergative, based on both Syntax: what transitive uses are possible Semantics: underlying role of subject (when intransitive) Unaccusative: subject is patient (eg die, fall) Unergative: subject is agent (ie unlike ergative use of

basically transitive verb) (eg run, dance) 9 2.2 Linguistic studies Verbs of sound usually classified as basically intransitive ie basic meaning is to emit a sound, not to cause to emit a sound But further classification is controversial Seems to depend on whether subject is typically animate or not Nevertheless, transitive use should be possible So what does corpus data say? 10

3. Corpus study 16 verbs (see above) Based (mainly) on examples found in the BNC Focus on transitive uses Intransitive use conforms to prediction of subject as emitter of sound Transitive uses turn out to be more varied than predicted 11 3.1 Sound emitter as direct object Causative sound examples

The nurses were clattering the tea cups Supporters honked horns The breeze rattled the leaves in the trees He strode along thudding his staff into the ground at every stride Causative motion examples She clattered ice cubes into the glass

The wind creaked the door to and fro Slowly they rumbled the big wheel across the sidewalk She claimed the match, whistling her shot past Novotna 12 3.2 Sound emitter as subject Reaction objects The girls groaned their envy The fans squeaked their excitement The kittens squealed their protest The owl whistled new delight

Message objects Grandson Richard rumbled a reply The pheasant flew off, squawking its alarm call Hot on his heels galloped the herd, squealing its demands 13 3.2 Sound emitter as subject Cognate objects I groaned deep loud primal groans The audience hooted its last hoot The fans squealed their Beatlemania squeals at his every move Meg drove around whistling her shrill through-theteeth whistle again and again

Direst speech complements Looking around, she groans Ive had enough Shakespeare! hooted Carrie What are you doing? she squawked 14 3.3 More transitive constructions Resultatives The amps were so loud they would honk your hair straight back from your skull We forced our way through the crowds, hooting them out of the way One of the kettles must have whistled itself dry It thuds staples through wood, walls, anything The way construction

Miss F clattered her way to the classroom The brook gurgled its way to a refurbished mill Tramcars rattled, roared and clanged their way along Norfolk Street 15 3.4 Attested transitive uses of verbs of sound Are there any patterns, and can we explain them? 16 4.1 When sound emitter is object Two interacting facets of a sound event

might explain the complement-taking properties Internal vs external causation Is the event initiated by an outside agent or does it originate in its participant? Internal vs external production Is the nature of the sound an inherent feature of the emitter, or a result of a combination of agents? 17 4.1 Internal vs external causation Verbs that cannot be used in causative sound construction denote internal causation

The tea kettle whistled * The boiling water whistled the tea kettle caused the kettle to whistle The rusty swings creaked * The wind creaked the rusty swings caused the swings to creak Other verbs denote external causation clatter, crackle, creak, honk, hoot, jingle, rattle, rumble, squeak, squeal, thud 18

4.1 Internal vs external production Whistle, groan, rumble produced by a source within the sound emitter Jingle, rattle produced through surface contact between objects with certain properties Some sounds can be either, eg squeal can be from vocal tract, or caused by friction This distinction is relevant to determining which transitive constructions are found 19 4.1 Causative sound use Internally caused sounds cannot occur in situations which are externally caused

* The roller coaster squealed the children * The driver squealed his passengers with his reckless driving. The driver squealed the tyres against the kerb Try it with the other verbs that dont allow CS groan, gurgle, squawk, whir, whistle 20 4.1 Causative motion use OK: clatter, creak, jingle, rattle, rumble, squeak, squeal, thud, whistle But not: crackle, groan, gurgle, honk, hoot, squawk, whir Direct object must be capable of making the

noise, and a location must be specified Verb must (again) denote externally produced noise He whistled the ball into the net * He squawked the parrot into the cage 21 4.2 When sound emitter is subject Trivial case (cognate object), when object reiterates the nature of the sound, often permitting further specification I groaned a deep, loud, primal groan Cognate objects found with 7 of our verbs: groan, honk, hoot, squawk, squeak, squeal But not clatter, crackle, creak, gurgle, jingle, rattle, rumble, thud, whir, whistle

Why (not) ? Could you have a non-cognate object (a near synonym)? ? She groaned a spine-tingling moan Subject must be animate (construed as agentive), with control over the nature of the sound 22 4.2 When sound emitter is subject Other types of object Emotion or attitude They groaned their envy, squealed their delight Found with groan, honk, hoot, rumble, squeak, squeal, whistle

Type of message The pheasant squawked its alarm call Found with crackle, gurgle, honk, hoot, rattle, rumble, squawk, squeal, whistle Are there any semantic constraints to explain what is/isnt possible? 23 4.2 When sound emitter is subject Emotion or attitude

Type of message Direct speech complement In all three cases Subject must be animate (capable of expressing an emotion or attitude, sending a message, speaking) Sound must be associated with that attitude, message, content They hooted their derision / * indifference Shakespeare! hooted Carrie verb indicates emotion Sound must be internally caused Does this analysis meet with your intuitions? 24 4.3 Other transitive constructions

Resultative constructions The kettled whistled itself dry Way constructions The tram rattled its way down Market Street Subtypes of the same construction Resultatives typically available for unergative verbs Way construction found for all 16 verbs, resultatives easy to construct where they are missing (???) 25 Conclusions and criticisms Corpus data was used to get examples Some patterns, groupings were observed

Data showed that there might be complexities not previously covered by lexicographers/linguists Assuming the data to be typical Explanations were well motivated Based on intuitions and common sense In accord with (non-corpus based) linguistic assumptions Handling of negative/missing data possibly a bit iffy An example of traditional linguistics backed up by corpora 26

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