Research team

Predictable ways of being unpredictable: Unconventional uses of verbal constructions. 01/10/2022 - 30/09/2026


This project focuses on the exploitation of certain linguistic structures in order to convey a sense of unconventionality. In principle, there are countless ways in which language users of different languages can make use of the conventional properties of linguistic items (words, intonation etc.) in order to stand out, yet this project sets out to demonstrate that they can also resort to syntax for these purposes. We focus, more specifically, on three such syntactic constructions: the progressive (expressed by 'be + -ing' in English), GO-constructions, and COME-constructions. Our cross-linguistic study reveals that, irrespective of their degree of entrenchment in a given language, these constructions are being recruited not to encode, say, duration or motion, but simply to convey a sense of unconventionality. The main objective is thus to show that apparently unconventional grammatical choices are not random and unpredictable when looking at them from a crosslinguistic perspective.


Research team(s)

Project type(s)

  • Research Project