More on objectless transitives and ergativization patterns in English
In two relatively recent papers, Goldberg provides a valuable analysis of transitive constructions without an overt object, as in She contributed to the Leukemia Foundation. Goldberg correctly stresses that this construction, which she terms the Deprofiled Object Construction has a clear semantic value; she further discusses some of the factors that may bring about the deemphasizing of the object (repeated or habitual actions, politeness strategies, etc.) as well as some (lexical) factors that prevent object omission. It is especially the latter issue for which the present paper offers a more nuanced, and at the same time more general, alternative. In our approach, we retain the constructional value but place it in a larger paradigmatic perspective, the opposition between the transitive and the ergative paradigms that
structure the English grammar of causative events. Our cognitive lexico-paradigmatic approach is corroborated by ample corpus data, which at the same time brings in important nuances, revealing the intricate and contextually variable interaction between constructional and lexical semantics and it does so in a way different from Goldberg’s analysis.