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1 Word Grammar and other cognitive theories Richard Hudson Budapest March 2012.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Word Grammar and other cognitive theories Richard Hudson Budapest March 2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Word Grammar and other cognitive theories Richard Hudson Budapest March 2012

2 2 Cognitive linguistics

3 3 Cognitive theories of grammar CgG CnG WG

4 4 Shared assumption 'the formal structures of language are studied not as if they were autonomous, but as reflections of general conceptual organisation, categorization principles, processing mechanisms and experiential and environmental influences' –Geeraerts and Cuyckens 2007:3

5 5 The Cognitive Principle 'Knowledge of language is knowledge' –Goldberg 1995:5 Contrast Modularity –Language is a separate 'module' of the mind. Let's call this the Cognitive Principle.

6 6 Different notations CgG –e.g. Langacker 2007 CnG –e.g. Croft 2007, Goldberg 1995 WG –e.g. Hudson 1980, 1990, 2007, 2010

7 7 CnG: Heather sings. (Croft 2007: 476)

8 8 WG: Heather sings. Heather subject Heather meaning singer No 'symbolic units'. Just a network of related concepts. semantics syntax meaning sings. singing

9 9 CgG: (the) table near (the) door (Langacker 2007: 442)

10 10 WG: the table near the door the door near door table near door landmark comp adjunct meaning Just words and other concepts in a network. table near the door position

11 11 Some agreements grammar-lexicon continuum –no separate lexicon language is learned from experience (usage) –not innate and 'triggered' network organisation of language –but what are the nodes?

12 12 Some disagreements Does language consist of symbols? –CgG, CnG: yes WG: no Is morphology independent of syntax? –CgG, CnG: no WG: yes What is syntactic structure like? –CgG, CnG: phrases WG: dependencies

13 13 Is language 100% symbolic? "…the pivotal claim of Cognitive Grammar that all valid grammatical constructs have a conceptual characterization" –(Langacker 2007:422) But: "The CG claim that basic grammatical classes can be characterized semantically … applies to a limited set of categories … –contrast "… idiosyncratic classes … Semantically, the members of such a class may be totally arbitrary." (ibid: 439)

14 14 … and Construction Grammar "In Construction Grammar, the basic linguistic units are symbolic and are organized as symbolic units" –Croft 2007:473 But: Some constructions have no meaning, e.g. Subject-Auxiliary Inversion –ibid: 484 So some units are not symbolic.

15 15 Against symbols Meanings and forms do not match. Some forms or classes have no meaning –e.g. 'irregular verb' Some 'meanings' cannot be expressed –e.g. 'sibling', German fahren Some forms express complex meanings –e.g. verbs like GIVE, LEND, MAKE …

16 16 CnG: the Benefactive-Ditransitive construction (Goldberg 1995: 77)

17 17 The Goldberg analysis Semantics and syntax are totally in step: –one verb, e.g. give, lend –one predicate, e.g. CAUSE-RECEIVE –three arguments for one predicate: agent recipient patient

18 18 But: John lent Mary his car. = 'John caused Mary to receive his car' two predicates, with separate arguments: –Pred 1 : John caused Pred 2 –Pred 2 : Mary received his car. Pred 1 is an action (John lent … at noon) Pred 2 is a state (John lent … for two days)

19 19 Semantics and syntax are independent So we need an analysis which allows semantics and syntax not to be in step. e.g. 'Benefactive ditransitive construction' –John made Mary a cake. Syntax: one verb, three dependents Semantics: at least two predicates: –Pred 1 : John made a cake in order for Pred 2 –Pred 2 : Mary had the cake.

20 20 WG: the Benefactive-Ditransitive construction transitive ditransitive benefactive ditransitive verb subject object ind obj beneficiary No constructions. Just words and other concepts Default inheritance applies to words. result having purpose 'rec' 'is-a'

21 21 Morphology is independent of syntax too Homonyms: two words, one morph –e.g. STICK n or STICK v = {stick} –learner must recognise {stick} before STICK Clitics: two words, one morph –e.g. YOU + BE:pres = {your} = /j ɔ :/ Fusion: many functions, one morph –e.g. Latin: present, singular, 1 st -person = {o}

22 22 The architecture of language in WG semantics syntax morphology phonology graphology meaning realisation

23 23 Syntactic structures "… a construction … is made up of parts, and those parts are themselves independent constructions." –Croft 2007: 495 But: "In Cognitive Grammar … grammatical constituency is … variable, nonessential and nonfundamental." –Langacker 2007: 442

24 24 Phrase structure in CgG, CnG Very simple phrase structure The only relations possible in syntax are: –part-whole (sub-classified for function) –left-right A very odd assumption for cognitive linguists –because we easily handle many other relations outside language, e.g. between people.

25 25 For example, a kinship network me Colin Gaynor Gretta Lucy brother mother son husband wife Peter daughter son grandson

26 26 WG syntax Dependency structure –like school grammar –but much richer Dependencies: –are asymmetrical –link single words –can be sub-classified eg. as 'subject', 'adjunct'

27 27 A simple example English visitorsgenerally like Budapest subject adjunct object

28 28 A richer example Where do they tend to stay? extractee subject pred s comp x pred comp

29 29 Conclusion Language-knowledge is just knowledge. It's a network of nodes (not of boxes). Semantics is independent of syntax. So is morphology. Syntax is a network of dependency relations among words.

30 30 Thank you This talk can be downloaded: More on Word Grammar:

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