Constructions, their families and their neighborhoods: the case of durak durakom ‘a fool times two’
Abstract On the basis of data from the Russian National Corpus, we analyze the meanings and structure of the syntactic construction observed in phrases like durak durakom ‘fool-nom.sg fool-ins.sg’, which we term the ‘NOM∼INS construction’. We argue that the construction constitutes a network of three closely related subcategories, which we refer to as ‘Extreme’, ‘Paragon’ and ‘Discourse Change’. It is furthermore shown that a diachronic change has taken place, whereby Discourse Change has overtaken Extreme as the dominant subcategory. Our analysis provides ample evidence for the main tenets of Construction Grammar, namely that a language is a network of related constructions, that meaning is often not compositional, that there is a continuum from idiomatic to schematic uses of constructions, and that constructions evolve over time.