Congratulations Dr. Laporte!


Samantha Laporte defended her PhD dissertation on Tuesday 25 June 2019!

Her thesis entitled The patterning of the high-frequency verb 'make' in varieties of English: A Construction Grammar approach was supervised by Professor Gaëtanelle GILQUIN (UCLouvain).

Other members of the jury included Professor Lambert ISEBAERT (UCLouvain), Professor Sabine DE KNOP (USL-Bruxelles), Professor Emerita Sylviane GRANGER (UCLouvain), Professor Thomas HOFFMANN (Katolische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt) and Professor Magali PAQUOT (UCLouvain).



In former British colonies, English has adjusted to a new sociocultural environment to give rise to institutionalized varieties of English as a second language called ‘New Englishes’. Such varieties develop new conventions, which have been argued to be particularly pervasive at the lexis-grammar interface. This PhD dissertation examines the lexicogrammatical patterning of the versatile high-frequency verb make in corpus data of British English and three New Englishes (Hong Kong, Indian, and Singapore English) through a Construction Grammar lens to (i) identify features of New Englishes and gauge whether these features exhibit traces of conventionalization, and (ii) assess whether the degree of social penetration of the New Englishes within the community correlates with linguistic behavior. The Construction Grammar approach allows for a systematic examination of verb patterning at different levels of abstraction, which, in turn, tackles verb patterning from an underexplored angle in Construction Grammar that also contributes to the theorizing of the framework.

Results indicate that different kinds of features emerge at each level of abstraction, which supports the claim that the lexis-grammar interface is prone to innovations. However, the low frequency of most innovations suggests that they are a sign of looser conventions rather than established new conventions. It is also shown that, for the phenomenon at hand, deeper social penetration of New Englishes tends to correlate with linguistic behavior that aligns more closely with that of speakers of British English. It is suggested that this stems from a cognitive representation of language that is closer to that of native speakers of (British) English, underlining the close link between the social and cognitive dimensions of language.

Published on June 28, 2019