The paper investigates valency coercion effects in Italian by means of an acceptability rating task on nine argument structure constructions. The experimental design follows Perek & Hilpert (2014) in presenting three conditions: grammatical, impossible and coercion stimuli. This design allows us to test several factors: the acceptability of creative coerced structures, the role of age and – most importantly – the influence of the construction itself. Results overall confirm our hypotheses: valency coercion is identified as an “intermediate” level between grammaticality and ungrammaticality, with varying degrees of “coercibility” across constructions. An influence of age is not in evidence for coercion sentences, suggesting that the systematic variation in acceptability is due to the influence of different constructions. We propose that coercion resolution results from the interaction of constructional and lexical semantics.
- Acceptability ratings
- Age grading
- Argument structure constructions