Construction grammar and its application to English by Martin Hilpert

By Martin Hilpert

What do audio system of English understand for you to produce utterances that different audio system will comprehend? development Grammar explains how wisdom of language is geared up in audio system' minds. The valuable and radical declare of building Grammar is that linguistic wisdom could be totally defined as wisdom of buildings, that are outlined as symbolic devices that attach a linguistic shape with which means. the consequences of this declare are far-reaching: in development Grammar, not just lexical goods, but additionally syntactic styles are obvious as symbolic, significant devices. rather than being meaningless structural templates, syntactic styles actively give a contribution to the final which means of an utterance. wisdom of language is considered an enormous repository of interrelated symbolic devices, and not anything else moreover. This publication expands in this suggestion and familiarizes readers with the critical suggestions of building Grammar, as utilized to English structures. within the procedure, it explains how the idea of development Grammar pertains to problems with language processing, language acquisition, and language edition and change.

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The entire expression conveys the meaning that John applied sauce to the pizza. This meaning cannot be derived from the individual words, and a second language learner might arrive at different interpretations, assuming for instance that John dipped a piece of pizza into sauce, or that John, using a heavy-duty blender, turned a pizza into a thick, unappetising sauce. Meanwhile, proficient speakers of English arrive at the intended interpretation because their linguistic knowledge includes a subpattern of the Transitive construction with denominal verbs that shows itself in expressions such as pepper the steak, 18 construction gr ammar and its application to english butter the toast, or egg and breadcrumb the fish.

The only viable solution in a dictionary-and-grammar model of linguistic knowledge would be to inscribe these restrictions into the lexical entries of the respective verbs in an ad-hoc fashion. This, however, raises further questions, specifically with regard to novel verbs. Take for instance the recent verb blog. The verb is regularly passivised, and even if your experience with such examples is limited, you will probably agree that Our wedding was blogged about! is an idiomatic sentence of English whereas *That we married was blogged by John is not.

By contrast, this does not work with look. The difference between refer and look is difficult to explain with recourse to a general grammatical rule, but it can be made sense of if the Passive is viewed as a construction that has distinct collocational preferences. As a rule of thumb, it appears that prepositional passives work well with highly entrenched or idiomatic combinations of verbs and prepositional objects. Hence, approve of a plan, pay for everything, or deal with issues are good candidates for prepositional passives, whereas search under a bed, walk across a hallway, or choose between two theories yield questionable examples.

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