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Description: Linguists have debated whether complex prepositions deserve a constituent status. None have proposed a dynamic model that can both predict what construal a given pattern imposes and account for the emergence of non-spatial readings. This paper reframes the debate on constituency as a justification of the constructional status of complex prepositional patterns from a historical perspective. It focuses on the *Prep NPIL of NPlm* construction, which denotes a relation of internal location between a located entity (a trajector) and a reference entity (a landmark). Four instances of the Internal Location constructions are examined: MIDDLEcxn (*in the middle of*), CENTERcxn (*in/at the center of*), HEARTcxn (*in/at the heart of*), and MIDSTcxn (*in the midst of*). Each imposes its own set of functional constraints upon the landmark. Using diachronic data, the internal dynamics of the construction's network are described. Two divisions of labor are observed. MIDSTcxn and HEARTcxn are in complementary distribution and operate mostly at the level of abstract locations whereas MIDDLEcxn and CENTERcxn are in parallel distribution and operate at the level of concrete locations.

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International


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