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  • Construction grammars: Cognitive grounding and theoretical extensions
  • Jóhanna Barddal
Construction grammars: Cognitive grounding and theoretical extensions. Ed. by Jan-Ola ÖstmanMirjam Fried. (Constructional approaches to language 3.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2005. Pp. 325. ISBN 1588115798. $138 (Hb).

As indicated by the title, this volume focuses on (i) the cognitive grounding of construction grammar (henceforth CxG), (ii) its theoretical extensions, and (iii) the plurality of construction grammar(s), with one (introductory) chapter on the first part, and four chapters on each of the two other parts. This is the third book in a new series on constructional approaches to language (CAL), a series that first and foremost aims at publishing innovative research on how CxG can be advanced and extended in new directions. The particular goal of this volume is in line with the aims of the series, namely to lay out the relation between CxG and cognition, broadly construed, to suggest possible theoretical extensions of CxG, and to explore the relationship between mainstream CxG and four other models of grammar that have either grown out of CxG or are compatible with it.

The introductory chapter (1–13) by the editors gives an overview of the historical background of CxG, its cognitive grounding, and a synthesis of the content of the eight following chapters, as well as a discussion of further possible advancement of the framework.

The first major part of the volume comprises chapters on argument linking, type shifting and coercion, syntactic change, and discourse-level constructions. Adele E. Goldberg’s chapter (17–43) discusses the interaction between lexical semantics, constructions, and discourse factors for argument linking and argument realization. When verbs instantiate constructions, arguments can be either added or omitted depending on speakers’ communicative needs. Constructions thus capture not only higher-level generalizations, that is, the ordinary argument structure constructions and their profiled arguments, but also lower-level subregularities involving deprofiled and omitted participant roles. The chapter underlines that the unexpected discrepancies found between argument-linking realization and event composition can be argued to be motivated by factors such as discourse salience and politeness.

In her chapter on type shifting and coercion (45–88), Laura A. Michaelis discusses lexical and constructional mismatches from the area of nominal syntax, argument structure, and aspect. When lexical items and constructions unify, the semantic restrictions of constructions override the semantics of lexical items. Two types of constructions show coercion effects, namely type-selecting constructions, which convey concord, and type-shifting constructions, which yield derivations. [End Page 422] When a relevant construction is not of the invoked type, implicit type shifting occurs. Regarding the issue of where sentence meaning comes from, the chapter argues for an intertwined constructional and lexical approach.

In ‘Frames, profiles and constructions: Two collaborating CGs meet the Finnish permissive construction’ (89–120), Jaakko Leino argues for a combined cognitive grammar and CxG representation of argument structure and sentence-level constructions. He points out that case markers in Finnish are not markers of grammatical relations but of semantic relations, and they must thus be accounted for accordingly. He demonstrates his notational apparatus with examples from the development of the Finnish permissive construction, which has changed from being a ditransitive with an infinitival adjunct to being a proper biclausal construction in the modern language. This case study demonstrates how the tools of CxG can be applied to account for the grammaticalization of sentence-level constructions.

In the chapter on construction discourse (121–44), Jan-Ola Östman argues for a holistic approach to language that includes discourse-level constructions like headlines, contact ads, recipes, and dinner conversations, each being a conventionalized form-function correspondence with different kinds of semantic and grammatical constraints. Östman’s nonreductionist view endorses the increased prominence of larger textual entities in current models of grammar, of which CxG is a particularly well-suited one. The chapter emphasizes that discourse patterns are conventionalized form-function correspondences, based on, and deeply rooted in, human cognition, exactly like sentence-level constructions.

The second major part of the volume comprises articles on embodied construction grammar, conceptual semantics, word grammar, and radical construction grammar. In ‘Embodied construction grammar in simulation-based language understanding...


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