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

In order to give a principled account of the range and extent of the construction, Goldberg gives semantic constraints for it. The first constraint is that the verb must refer to an unbounded activity, or if not, a repeated action. The following contrasting examples from Jackendoff (1990) make this constraint evident:

(6.177) a. Firing wildly, Jones shot his way through the crowd.
b. * With a single bullet, Jones shot his way through the crowd.

(6.178) a. Bill punched his way through the crowd by pummeling everyone in his path.
b. * Bill punched his way through the crowd by leveling the largest man and having everyone else step aside.

(6.179) a. She jumped her way over the ditches
b. * She jumped her way over the ditch.

(6.180) * She dove her way into the fire.

The last sentence is unacceptable because the verb dive does not designate an unbounded activity. The (a) sentences are acceptable because of the iterative reading, which usually turns bounded events into unbounded activities.

The second constraint she proposes is that the motion must be self-propelled:

(6.181) * The wood burns its way to the ground.

(6.182) * The butter melted its way off the turkey.

Unaccusative verbs are thus eliminated from this construction since unaccusativity has been argued to correlate with lack of agentivity or lack of self-initiation (van Valin 1990).

The following example shows that the subject need not be volitional, or even human, so long as the motion is viewed as self-propelled:

(6.183) The large seeds sprout quickly and dependable and the strong seedlings can push their way through crusted soil.
There are two exceptions to this constraint, work and find:
(6.184) The spending bills working their way through Congress don’t present much of a problem in terms of the Gramm-Rudman laws.

(6.185) Bolivia estimated that about half its sacred textiles had been smuggled out of Bolivia and had found their way into American collections.

Find in this use is also different from the general case in that only the goal of the path can occupy the position of the directional. No other path elements are allowed:
(6.186) * The textiles found their way through customs.

(6.187) * The statements found their way toward the right people.

This self-propelling constraint does not seem to apply to the manner interpretation. The following example is an indication of this:
(6.188) I knitted my way across the Atlantic
Nevertheless, even in this case the action denoted by the verb is performed agentively.

Goldberg’s third constraint determines that the motion must be directed, that is, it cannot be aimless. Such a constraint accounts for the unacceptability of the following:

(6.189) * She wandered her way over the field.

(6.190) *She meandered her way through the crowds.

It would not be possible to circumscribe this constraint in just the verb because the constraint applies to non-directed motion expressed by means of prepositions such as among:
(6.191) * Joe shoved his way among the crowd.
vs. Joe shoved his way through the crowd.
Among is responsible in this example for the non-directed motion. This shows that this is a constructional constraint.

In this chapter, Goldberg’s constructional approach has been presented. In the following chapter an integration of the two approaches, the lexicalist or projectionist, and the constructional, will be advocated.

Anterior   I  Siguiente   I  Índice capítulo 6   I  Índice General

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