The present of the English future: Grammatical variation and collocations in discourse

Rena Torres Cacoullos, James A. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

51 Scopus citations

Abstract

We use the variationist method to elucidate the expression of future time in English, examining multiple grammaticalization in the same domain (will and going to). Usage patterns show that the choice of form is not determined by invariant semantic readings such as proximity, certainty, willingness, or intention. Rather, particular instances of each general construction occupy lexical, syntactic, and pragmatic niches. While putative differences in meaning are largely neutralized in discourse, grammaticalization paths are reflected in particular constructions of different degrees of lexical specificity, which bear different nuances of meaning or tenacious patterns of distribution inherited from once-meaningful associations. We conclude that collocations contribute to the shape of grammatical variation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-354
Number of pages34
JournalLanguage
Volume85
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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