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Construction Grammar

The most outstanding features of the theory of constructions as an answer to Generative Grammar.

Luz Díaz

on 16 June 2011

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Transcript of Construction Grammar

Construction Grammar The Concept Generativism by Chomsky Theory The Concept of Constructions Background Conclusions References Cognitive linguistic approach to syntax.

Concern to find a place for idiomatic expressions in the speaker’s knowledge of a grammar of their language. Why did CG arise?
Need to represent linguistic knowledge in a construction-like fashion.
Generative Grammar (GG) did not account for linguisitc phenomenma such as idioms and idiomatic phrases.
E.g. “Break a leg”. Generative Grammar Speaker’s grammatical knowledge: organised into components. Lexicon: basic units of syntactic combination.
Lexicon differs from previous components: it gives syntactic category and meaning. It is 'vertical' Definition of Idiom Grammatical units larger than a word, idiosyncratic in some respect. break a leg? or break a leg? Nunberg et al (1994:492-93)
Features of idioms:
Conventionality (fundamental feature, idiosyncratic)
Inflexibility (restricted syntax)
Figuration (figurative meaning)
Proverbiality (socially bound)
Informality (associated with informal speech)
Affect (affective attitude) Types of idioms compared to regular syntactic expressions “The dependancy among the parts of idiomatically combining expressions is (…) fundamentally semantic in nature” (Nunberg et al,1994) From Constructions to Construction Grammar Construction:
Syntactic configuration.
It cuts across the componential model of grammatical knowledge.
Vertical structures that combine syntactic, semantic and even phonological information. Diagram for CG Collocations Combinations of words which are preferred over others. Phonological component: rules and constraints governing sound structure. Syntactic component: syntax. Semantic component: meaning. Intermediate point from Syntax to lexicon e.g. To toast and to roast What do you do to these? But, what is the difference between collocations and idiomatic phrases? Conventionality Syntactic expressions have general rules, while idiomatically combined expressions have more specialised rules. Let us discuss To what extent do non-native speakers of English achieve linguistic competence in the target language? To what extent are phrasal verbs involved in this theory of CG? Activity: Analyse the following expressions With might and main Now, make a comparison between the literal meaning and the intended meaning. Wide awake To blow sb’s nose All night long CG arose as an answer to GG Idiosyncrasy (conventionality) Degrees of Idiomaticity Cognitive processes involved Languages are collocational Change in the approach of Generativism Croft W., Curse A. "Cognitive Linguistics". London: CUP, 2004. Baker, C. "Introduction to Generative-Transformational syntax". Englewoods Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall Inc. 1978 Goldberg, A. E. "Constructions: a new theoretical approach to language". Trends in Cognitive Sciences. May 2003, p. 219-224 Goldberg, A. E. "Constructions, A Construction Grammar Approach to Argument Structure". Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1995 "The constructionist framework emphasises the semantics and distribution of particular words, grammatical morphemes, and cross-linguistically unusual phrasal patterns" (Goldberg, 2003) Croft et al 2004 Goldberg, 2003 Principles of Constructionist Approaches Goldberg 2003 1) All levels of description are understood to involve pairings of form with semantic or discourse function. 2) An emphasis is placed on subtle aspects of the way we conceive of events and states of affairs. 3) No underlying levels of syntax or any phonologically empty elements are proposed. 4) Constructions are understood to be learned on the basis of the input and general cognitive mechanisms (they are constructed), and are expected to vary cross-linguistically. 5) General cognitive constraints are used in cross-linguistic generalisations (universal patterns). 6) Language-specific generalisations across constructions are captured via inheritance networks. 7) The totality of our knowledge of language is captured by a network of constructions: a "construct-i-con". Greenbaum S., Quirk R. "A Students' grammar of the English Language". London: Longman, 1990. Nunberg et al 1994 (In Goldberg 2003)
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