ISSN: 1139-8736
Depósito Legal: B-48039-2000 Means and Manner Interpretation

Goldberg points out that Levin and Rapoport (1988) and Jackendoff (1990) have suggested two different senses for this construction, one in which the verb encodes the means of motion, and another in which the verb refers to some action or manner which accompanies the motion. As an example, Jackendoff gives the following:

(6.150) Sam joked his way into the meeting.
This sentence can be interpreted in two ways:
(6.151) a. Sam got into the meeting by joking. (means)
b. Sam went into the meeting (while) joking. (manner)
Goldberg remarks that in the corpora she used only 40 out of 1177 examples she studied had manner interpretation. This amounts to less than 4%. It can be concluded, then, that the means interpretation is primary.

In addition, not all speakers find the manner interpretation acceptable. Goldberg asked native speakers for their opinions about one of Jackendoff’s examples with manner interpretation:

(6.152) He belched his way out of the restaurant.
Many of the speakers created situations in which the belching, instead of an accompanying manner, was the means by which motion was achieved, with one of them proposing that it would be acceptable in a context in which other diners found belching so objectionable that they cleared a path for the exit, and another suggesting belching as a means of propulsion. Others found the manner interpretation marginal.

Another piece of evidence for the centrality of the means interpretation comes from diachronic evidence. According to Goldberg, the first citation for this pattern in the OED is from the year 1400: "I made my way . . . unto Rome." The first citation with any other verb apart from make is from 1694: "[He] hew’d out his way by the power of the Sword." It is not until 1836 that an example involving manner is recorded: "The muffin-boy rings his way down the little street." This diachronic evidence can be read as suggesting that there was an extension from the means interpretation to manner.

The POSSESSIVE way object is an effected object, that is, it is not pre-established but rather created by the action of the subject. Goldberg attributes this basic insight to Jespersen (1949). This explains why, in the means interpretation, the construction is interpreted as motion in spite of some external difficulty. Consider:

(6.153) Sally made her way into the ballroom
It is implied that Sally moved through a crowd or other obstacles. This is more evident in the following examples, where the obstacle is present in the wording of the sentence:
(6.154) For the record, Mr Klein, as lead climber for the Journal team, pushed his way past the others, trampling the lunch of two hikers in his black army boots, and won the race to the summit.

(6.155) In some cases, passengers tried to fight their way through smoke-choked hallways to get back to their cabins to get their safety jackets.

(6.156) For hours, troops have been shooting their way through angry, unarmed mobs.

Other verbs, such as thread, weave and wend, involve deliberate, careful, methodical, or winding motion:
(6.157) This time, with no need to thread his way out, he simply left by the side door for a three-day outing.

(6.158) A couple in fashionable spandex warm-up suits jogs by, headphones jauntily in place, weaving their way along a street of fractured and fallen houses.

In any case, these examples, like the previous ones, imply that the path is not pre-existent, but created by the motion. For Goldberg, the implication that the motion takes place despite some external difficulty explains why this construction does not generally show up with high-frequency basic motion verbs, as attested by the unacceptability of the following examples:
(6.159) * She went/walked/ran her way to New York.

(6.160) * She stepped/moved her way to New York.

These verbs do not usually imply that there is any difficulty or indirect motion involved. If the context allows for such an interpretation, they are much better:
(6.161) a. The novice skier walked her way down the ski slope.
b. The old man walked his way across the country to earn money for charity.
This is in contrast to Levin and Rappaport Hovav’s (1995: 199) prediction that this construction could be used with verbs of manner of motion and internally caused verbs of sound emission. This prediction is borne out by example (4.44) above, repeated below, and by the following sentences in Levin and Rappaport Hovav (1995: 199):
(6.162) Willy jumped his way into Harriet’s arms.

(6.163) . . . young performers have sung and danced their way around the world many times since 1965.

(6.164) When they finally creep their way to the front of the line, a smiling mouseketeer named Brad manhandles them into the seat of a boat

(6.165) Now they are swimming their way toward Toronto.

(6.166) Then he watched as it gurgled its way into a whiskey tumbler.

(6.167) . . . the train was soon shrieking and grinding its way toward St. Bridget.

(6.168) Above her flew a great gaggle of geese, honking their way south.

In the first sentence, there is a very common manner of motion verb jump, and the context does not seem to imply that any special difficulty was present.

Goldberg claims that way is analyzable as a literal or metaphorical path that is created by the action denoted by the verb, which helps explain the implication that the motion is effected despite some external obstacle. The fact that way can appear with modifiers further supports the claim that way is analyzed as a meaningful element. This is illustrated in the following examples:

(6.169) a. . . .the goats wending their familiar ways across the graveyard. . .
b. [He] decided from then onwards that he could make his own way to school. . .
These examples show that the POSS way phrase plays a role in the semantics of the construction.

Another piece of evidence that Goldberg cites in favor of the claim that the construction involves the creation of a path is historical. As seen above (in data from the OED), the verb make had a privileged status, since it was the only verb attested with the construction for almost three hundred years. In Goldberg’s corpus of examples, make is still predominant with more than 20% of the tokens.

For Goldberg, the way construction can be viewed as a conventionalized amalgam of the syntax and semantics of the intransitive motion construction and creation expressions:

(6.170) He made a path.

(6.171) He moved into the room.

The way construction fuses the two into a structure with three complements: the creator-theme, the createe-way, and the path. It inherits aspects from both, but it nevertheless exists as an independent construction.

Its semantics involves the creation of a path and movement along that same path. The verb may, but does not have to, code the semantics of the construction. As examples of verbs whose meanings lexicalize the semantics of the construction, Goldberg gives worm, inch and work. Other verbs simply designate the means of the motion through a self-created path. Any argument that the verb takes on its own must be fused with one of the arguments associated with the construction.

From its semantics, the syntax of the construction falls in place without much stipulation. The POSS way phrase is linked to the direct object because that is the function that effected objects usually play in syntax. The path argument is linked to an adverbial directional because it is coding a path, and the creator-theme is linked to the subject position because creators and self-propelling themes are usually linked to that syntactic position. Only the fact that the created-way argument has to be realized with a bound possessive pronoun plus way needs to be stipulated in the syntax of the construction.

Goldberg gives the following as examples that do not admit a means interpretation:

(6.172) [They were] clanging their way up and down the narrow streets. . .

(6.173) . . . the commuters clacking their way back in the twilight towards . . .

(6.174) She climbed the stairs to get it, crunched her way across the glass-strewn room. . .

(6.175) He seemes to be whistling his way along.

(6.176) . . . he was scowling his way along the fiction shelves in pursuit of a book.

In all of these examples the verbs do not encode the means of motion but only co-occurring manner. Not all speakers accept them, but many do, although marginally. For Goldberg the manner interpretation is just an extension of the more basic means interpretation. The construction is polysemous.

Anterior   I  Siguiente   I  Índice capítulo 6   I  Índice General

ISSN: 1139-8736
Depósito Legal: B-48039-2000