The Idiomatic Expression "There you are". A Constructional Analysis


Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2016
15 Pages, Grade: 1,7

Excerpt

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Main Part
2.1 “There you are” – A Constructional Analysis
2.2 The Variability of “There you are” in its different meanings

3. Conclusion

Works Cited

1. Introduction

Construction Grammar assumes a holistic and cognitive approach to language learning. This approach involves simple assumptions regarding syntax which reduces complexity and thus allows for language to be learnable from input. Construction Grammar represents a contrast to the Chomskyan view which maintains that language is an innate capacity and that people are hard-wired to aquire language. All in all, Generative Grammar assumes that a speaker’s grammatical knowledge is organized into components as the phonological component, the morphological component, the syntactic component and the semantic component. Construction Grammar on the other hand, assumes that idiomatic expressions are everywhere and that all grammatical patterns are riddled with exceptions and idiosyncrasies. This leads to the assumption that the totality of our knowledge of language is captured by a network of constructions, a so called “construct-i-con”. According to Adele E. Goldberg, “C is a CONSTRUCTION iffdef C is a form-meaning pair <F¡,S¡,> such that some aspect of F¡ or some aspect of S¡ is not strictly predictable from C’s component parts or from other previously established constructions”(qtd. in Hilpert, What is Construction Grammar?)[1]. Furthermore, constructions are symbolic units that are not strictly predictable. As Goldberg puts it, “[a]ny linguistic pattern is recognized as a construction as long as some aspect of its form or function is not strictly predictable from its component parts or from other constructions recognized to exist” (qtd. in Hilpert, What is Construction Grammar?).This means that if the meaning of an idiom cannot be figured out by the literal meaning of its parts, it is a construction. This assumption does not automatically exclude that even a semantically compositional and regular linguistic form could be a construction as Goldberg explains in the extended version of her definition of what a construction is: “In addition, patterns are stored as constructions even if they are fully predictable as long as they occur with sufficient frequency”(qtd. in Hilpert, What is Construction Grammar?). This assumption leads to the fact that predictable linguistic forms such as “I love you” or “How has your day been?” turn out to be entrenched predictable constructions.

In order to figure out whether a linguistic pattern counts as a construction or not, there are 4 detection strategies which should be considered.

The first strategy is to find out whether the linguistic form has characteristics that deviate from normal patterns. One example: “I am good friends with my ex”. Since “I am” calls for something in the singular, it seems unusual that the following word is in the plural.

It is further necessary to find out whether the meaning of the linguistic form is non-compositional, which means that the whole phrase could mean more than the combination of its parts. The greeting formula “How do you do” is a good example for a non-compositional meaning as it does not literally represent a request for the quality of how somebody is doing something.

The third strategy is to find out whether the linguistic form has idiosyncratic constraints. A good example of this is the sentence: ”Is it just me or is it loud in here?” The characteristic constraint in this phrase is the “Is it just me”- construction which is not variable since one cannot say: “Is it just him or is it loud in here?” .

The last strategy would be to examine whether the linguistic form has collocational preferences as in the phrase: “To put it in a nutshell”. It is not possible to replace “nutshell” by “apple” or “peanut” since the meaning would no longer be the same (Hilpert, What is Construction Grammar?).

Considering the target of this paper which is to investigate whether “there you are” is a construction, it is necessary to examine whether the idiomatic expression has different meanings, what it means literally and if there is a variability in its word order. Therefore, this paper deals with the linguistic form “there you are” from a constructional point of view in order to reveal that this idiomatic expression is a construction. First of all I will analyse the different meanings of the construction on the basis of the strategies provided by Martin Hilpert and illustrate this with the help of examples for each pragmatic meaning. After that I will take a closer look at the variability of the construction and its different meanings in order to draw a conclusion in the end.

2. Main Part

2.1 “There you are” – A Constructional Analysis

In order to find out whether the idiom “there you are” is a construction, there are a few strategies to go through as already presented in the introduction. In the case of the phrase “there you are” I will only work with these strategies that are applicable to it. Since the phrase “there you are” is used in different contexts with different meanings, I will first illustrate these differences with the help of examples listed in a chart before I start analysing them with the strategies provided by Martin Hilpert.

When someone uses the phrase “there you are” when he or she is giving something to somebody, the meaning can no longer be guessed by the sequence of words and their literal meaning. One example: “There you are, Mr Sims, your cucumbers and your milk. That will be 6 euros altogether.” In the usage of “there you are” in this case, the speaker cannot figure out the meaning of this complex linguistic form even if he or she knows the meaning of the single parts “there” “you” and “are”. To explain this further, the following chart represents two invented examples and one taken from the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) of “there you are” used when a person is giving or presenting something to somebody.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Considering the fact that I had to provide two examples by myself since I did not find much information about its usage in written English, I derive from that, that this pragmatic meaning of “there you are” is mostly used in spoken English. In these examples mentioned above, the speaker is giving something, a book in example two and some drinks in example three, to another person. Saying “there you are” means in that context “here, this is for you”. In the first example, the speaker is not really handing over something to the other person but presenting the coffee which should mean something like “you are invited to drink this” or “here you go, take this”. Nevertheless, these three examples are comparable to each other since the speaker is presenting something to the person opposite who perceives that piece of information.

The second meaning of “there you are” is a literal one derived from the meaning of its constituent units: There(location) you(subject) are(Verb to be). In this context, the speaker has probably found someone he or she was looking for and was wondering where that person was. The speaker welcomes him or her with the words: “There you are”. The emphasis is on the adverb of place “there” since the speaker underlines that he did not know the location of the person. This phrase means: “I was looking for you and now I have found you” or: “I wondered where you have been but now you have appeared”. The following chart contains examples of “there you are” in its literal meaning taken from the Corpus of Contemporary American English(COCA) and the online dictionary Linguee.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

The first two examples mentioned above simply deal with the location of the person opposite. By saying “there you are” the speaker refers to the location of that person. In example three, the speaker seems to be surprised to see the other person and expresses this by saying “there you are” meaning something like “Oh, I was looking for you and now you are here”. Although the meaning of “there you are” is literal and therefore fully predictable in these examples, it could still count as a construction due to its frequent use which is a feature of a construction according to Goldberg.

The third pragmatic meaning of the construction is used to indicate the result of an action or event meaning something like “that’s it” or “that’s all”. Here, the speaker could for instance enumerate things that have to be done in order to achieve the goal or the result of these measures. Saying “there you are”, the speaker emphasizes that it is not so difficult to reach that goal. Considering the third pragmatic meaning of “there you are” used to highlight the result of an action, the chart below shows further examples of this way to use the idiom.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

In the examples mentioned in the chart, the construction is used to underscore the result of the interlocutor’s action meaning something like “that’s the way it is”, “all right, that’s it” or “there you are, you see?”. In the first example provided by myself, the speaker describes a way of proceeding and ends up by saying “there you are” which highlights that the last step is done. The second and third example of the construction mean something like “that’s the way it is” highlighting the result or outcome of an action.

When someone uses this idiom in a sense of “I told you so” or to express confirmation, the literal meaning of the single words does also not correspond with the intended meaning of this phrase which somebody says triumphantly after hearing one's opinion confirmed. One example: “This book says Mozart was born in 1756.” ”Well, there you are. I said this all along.” You can see further examples of the usage in the following chart.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

The first example mentioned above shows an outraged speaker using “there you are” in order to express something like “I told you so, I am right!”. In the second and third example the idiomatic expression is used in order to express confirmation as an answer to what the interlocutor has said before. In this sense, the construction means something like “yes, that’s it” or “you’re right, exactly”. In the fourth example, “there you are” is used to confirm what the speaker has said before, meaning “you bet” or “you can take my word for it”.

“There you are” is further used to express acceptance. In that case, the speaker refers to another event or action meaning something like “that’s the way it is”. The examples from the ongoing chart should further illustrate this:

illustration not visible in this excerpt

The first example from the chart above shows how “there you are” can also be used to express a person’s acceptance of a certain situation meaning something like “all right, that’s the way it is”. In the other two examples, the sense of acceptance in “there you are” is even more intensive as it means something like: “That’s the way it is, deal with it!”

Another pragmatic meaning of the construction “There you are” is that it could also be used as words of encouragement or to express triumph. In that context, the speaker makes use of the phrase to encourage somebody or himself meaning something like “let’s go” or “here you go”. It is further used to refer triumphantly to another action. This can be seen in the examples from the following chart:

illustration not visible in this excerpt

In the first example, the construction means something like “here you go, you can make it”. In the second one, the idiom “there you are” refers to the triumph of the interlocutor meaning “that’s great! So you did a good job then.” In the third example, the construction refers to the triumph of Lauren who uses the phrase “there you are” with great relief when she realizes that the surgery was successful.

[...]


[1] F = Form; S= Meaning

Excerpt out of 15 pages

Details

Title
The Idiomatic Expression "There you are". A Constructional Analysis
College
University of Osnabrück  (Amerikanistik)
Course
Construction Grammar
Grade
1,7
Author
Year
2016
Pages
15
Catalog Number
V428998
ISBN (eBook)
9783668753020
ISBN (Book)
9783668753037
File size
517 KB
Language
English
Tags
Construction Grammar, Analysis, Idiomatic, there you are
Quote paper
Claudia Rumms (Author), 2016, The Idiomatic Expression "There you are". A Constructional Analysis, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/428998

Comments

  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: The Idiomatic Expression "There you are". A Constructional Analysis


Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free