Presentation on theme: "Cognitive Approaches to Grammatical Forms Gui Shichun (based on Croft & Cruse)"— Presentation transcript:
Cognitive Approaches to Grammatical Forms Gui Shichun (based on Croft & Cruse)
1.From Idioms to Construction Grammar Construction grammar grew out of a concern to find a place for idiomatic expressions in the speakers knowledge of a grammar of their language. Construction grammar arose as a response to the model of grammatical knowledge proposed by various versions of generative grammar. In most theories of generative grammar, a speakers knowledge is organized into components:
Phonological component Semantic component Syntactic component Lexicon Link rules The horizontal organization of grammatical knowledge
The model rejects the concept of construction: The passive construction Janet was promoted by the company. [subject be Verb-PastParticiple by Oblique] In the generative model, as many of these properties of the passive construction as possible would be described by the general rules of various components, and any idiosyncratic properties would be placed in the lexicon.
2.The problems of idioms Idioms are grammatical units larger than a word which is idiosyncratic in some respect. – it takes one to know one(=the person who expressed criticism has similar faults to the person being criticized) – pull a fast one(=to trick somebody) – bring down the house(=to make the audience laugh) – wide awake(=completely awake) – sight unseen(=buying something without looking at the thing first) – all of a sudden – (X) blows Xs nose – Once upon a time…
3. Three features which can be used to classify idioms Encoding vs decoding. – An encoding idiom is one that is interpretable by the standard rules for interpreting sentences, but is arbitrary (conventional) with this meaning, e.g. wide awake, answer the door, and bright red. – A decoding idiom is one that cannot be decoded by the hearer, a hearer will not be able to figure out the meaning of the whole from the meaning of its parts, e.g. to pull a fast one, to kick the bucket.
Contin. Grammatical vs extragrammatical idioms. – Grammatical idioms are parsable by the general syntactic rules for the language, but are semantically irregular, e.g. (X) blows Xs nose, kick the bucket. – Extragrammatical idioms cannot be parsed by the general syntactic rules for the language, e.g. all of a sudden, so far so good, in short.
Contin. Substantive vs formal (schematic) idioms – A substantive, or lexically filled, idiom is one which all the elements are fixed, e.g. it takes one to know one is completely fixed, one cannot even alter the tense(*it took one to know one). – A formal (schematic), or lexically open, idiom is one in which at least part of the idiom an be filled by the usual range of expressions that are syntactically and semantically appropriate for the slot, e.g. (X) blows Xs nose, X can be filled by a noun phrase: I blow my nose, Kim blew her nose, etc.
4. A three-way categorization of idioms Unfamiliar pieces unfamiliarly arranged. Certain words occur only in a idiom, e.g. kith and kin, with might and main. Familiar pieces unfamiliarly arranged, e.g. all of a sudden, in point of fact. Familiar pieces familiarly arranged, e.g. pull Xs leg (= tease X, which can have any person-denoting noun phrase as X), tickle the ivories (=play the piano very well, which can be inflected for tense/mood).
5. Idioms as constructions Fillmore et al argue that the proper way to represent speakers knowledge of idioms is as constructions. A construction is a schematic idiom. That is some elements of the construction are lexically open on the one hand, and so the idioms fitting the description cannot simply be listed as phrasal lexical items. On the other hand, it is semantically and possibly also syntactically and lexically irregular. As an illustration, the construction of the conjunction let alone is given to show that it has syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic properties that cannot be described by the general rule of the language.
Contin. As a coordinating conjunction: Max would eat SHRIMP, let alone SQUID. It allows sentence fragments for the second conjunct. Let alone is like certain other conjunctions, including comparative than: – John hardly speaks RUSSIAN, let alone BULGARIUN vs John speaks better Russian than Bulgarian. It is impossible with VP ellipsis (deletion of verb phrase excluding the auxiliary) – *Max wont eat shrimp, let alone Minnie will. It is a paired focus construction – He doesnt get up for LUNCH, let alone BREAKFAST vs He doesnt get up for LUNCH, much less BREAKFAST or She didnt eat a BITE, never mind a WHOLE MEAL.
Contin. Let alone occurs mostly in negative contexts, but it is also possible in certain contexts: – Youve got enough material there for a whole SEMEMSTER, let alone a WEEK. All these point to the fact that the let alone construction has its own syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic properties that cannot be predicted from more general rules of syntax, semantics and pragmatics.
6. From constructions to construction grammar A construction is a syntactic configuration, sometimes with one or more substantive items (e.g. the words let alone, have a …) and sometimes not (e.g. the focus constructions). A construction has its own semantic interpretation and sometimes its own pragmatic meaning. A construction cuts across the componential model of grammatical knowledge. Like lexicon, it is a vertical structure which combines syntactic, semantic and even phonological information.
Construction typeTraditional nameExample Complex, and (mostly schematic ) syntax [SBJ be-TNS VERB- en by OBJ] Complex, substantive verb subcategorization frame [SBJ consume OBJ] Complex, and (mostly) substantive idiom kick-TNS the bucket Complex but bound morphology [NOUN-s], [VERB- TNS] Atomic and schematic syntactic category[DEM], [ADJ] Atomic and substantive word/lexicon[this], [green] 7. The syntax-lexicon continuum
8. The symbolic structure of a construction syntactic properties morphological properties phonological properties semantic properties pragmatic properties discourse-functional properties CONSTRUCTION FORM (CONVENTIONAL) MEANING Symbolic correspondence (link)
9. Different versions of construction grammar Construction Grammar (Fillmore, Kay, et al) Lakoff (1987) and Goldberg (1995) Cognitive Grammar (Langacker, 1987, 1999, 2001) as a construction grammar Radical construction grammar (Croft,2001)
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