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The research presented in this chapter contributes to ongoing investigations into the relationship between cognitive linguistics (especially construction grammars of various kinds) and diachronic linguistics. Diachronic work is typically 'data rich', and so it needs an appropriate theoretical formalism (of which Construction Grammar is just one kind). The focus in such accounts of language change is on micro-steps, piecemeal realignments in signs. This focus on micro-steps is an area of considerable convergence between generative and cognitive approaches to grammatical change (see further Roberts 2010). Given Felser & Britain's adoption (or adaptation) of Cinque's functional-head projection, a minimalist analysis of the change (rather than their synchronic analysis) is also likely to require attention to "structural micro-changes, with gradualness emerging as the accumulation of such changes" (Roberts 2010: 70). Formal syntacticians are increasingly engaging with micro-variation (see for instance Henry 1995, Adger 2006, and Parrot 2007), and the relationship between I-, E- and S-languages (see further Adger & Trousdale 2007), allowing for convergence between variationist sociolinguistics and formal syntax; similar kinds of convergence between formal and cognitive approaches to change would mean that "we may be getting something right" (Roberts 2010: 70).

Corpus data

CLMETEV = Corpus of Late Modern English Texts (Extended Version), see De Smet 2005 COCA = Corpus of Contemporary American English, see Davies 2008-

Oxford English Dictionary


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