Studies in Variation, Contacts and Change in English. 2017, 18
Drawing on diachronic data from the Corpus of Historical American English (COHA), this paper starts by testing the initial hypothesis that the resultative ADJ enough that construction is on the increase. One complicating factor for automatic extraction of this construction is the structurally similar explanative ADJ enough that construction, requiring manual scrutiny of around 700 instances of the sequence ADJ enough that in the corpus. Part of the analysis thus involves disambiguation of the two superficially similar constructions, calling for a discussion of the conditions of use of the resultative construction in terms of contextual co-occurrence patterns. The focus is on adjective selection and type of subject co-occurring with the two construction types. The analysis reveals that the resultative type is indeed on the increase in American English, while both similarities and differences are noted in their co-occurrence patterns. The major difference lies in the selection of adjective types and the number of adjective tokens in the resultative vs. explanative construction. While the resultative construction turns out to be much more flexible with regard to adjective selection, the explanative construction is more prone to recurrence of the same adjective types, resulting in a higher number of tokens. Finally, some potential reasons for the increase of the ADJ enough + resultative that-clause construction are discussed, of which two feasible candidates are colloquialisation and flexibility of use.