A Construction Grammar Account of V the Hell Out of Constructions in Present-Day English


  • Shun Kudo Seitoku University


Idiomatic expressions (or idiomaticity) have long been a focus of semantics (Bolinger 1971, 1977; Langacker 1987; Nunberg et al. 1994; etc.). The previous studies mainly deal with verb phrases such as pull strings “to exploit connections.” Recent constructional works investigate idiomatic expressions in the level of construction such as Caused-Motion Constructions (e.g. They laughed the poor guy out of the room) and Resultative Constructions (e.g. John hammered the metal flat) (Goldberg 1995; Jackendoff 1997, 2002; etc.), which have been regarded as minor exceptions in generative syntax. As one of them, V the Hell Out of Constructions (VHOCs), e.g. John beat the hell out of Sam, have become a recent focus of construction grammar (Hoeksema and Napoli 2008; Yoshikawa and Igarashi 2011; etc.). This expression usually describes the intensity or furiousness of action denoted by verbs, e.g. “John beat Sam furiously.” This paper carefully examines their interpretations, based on the research conducted by Hoeksema and Napoli (2008). Furthermore, I consider the relationship among VHOCs and other related constructions from the viewpoint of construction grammar.