Adjectives in Cognitive Grammar - A usage-based Account

  • Christine Simone Sing (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationScience to science

Description

Semantically complex linguistic structures have regularly presented a challenge to studies of meaning, inclusive of cognitive semantics. Compounding the well-known difficulties arising from the 'semantic flexibility'of word meanings, the problems multiply when the linguistic category concerned is an adjective. This 'old problem' results from attributes within the category ADJECTIVE itself since "all adjectives are predisposed for certain properties both in the content domain and the schematic domain". In fact, this distinction between 'semantic' and 'functional' domains reflects the traditional subdivision into content and function words and thus still leaves a significant gap in the study of adjectival meaning - as is the case with the claim that, as premodifiers, adjectives directly assign properties to the noun's semantic structure. It is this gap that the present study proposes to fill in providing a usage-based, cognitive-grammar account of adjectival meaning. Adopting a fresh perspective, the corpus-based analysis rests on the assumption that the construal of adjectives in discourse is governed by the constraining influences of sentences schemas and constructions. Moreover, following Taylor (2002: 449), it will be argued that the "complexity of [adjectives] resides, not so much in the nature of the profile as in what is not profiled, [i.e.] the background against which profiling takes place". Drawing on Talmy's (2000) proposal of a lexicon-grammar continuum that structures the cognitive representation of a given concept, the construal of adjectives is assumed to derive from domain-specific knowledge operative in specific contexts of use, for which the used-based approach (e.g. Barlow & Kemmer 2002) to language provides valuable analytical tools. Accordingly, some of the most frequent adjectives in two large corpora, the BNC and COCA, will be investigated in terms of the most typical colligations and adjective-noun combinations in which they occur.
Period14 Jun 201116 Jun 2011
Event titleThe Third Conference of the Scandinavian Association for Language and Cognition (SALC III)
Event typeUnkonwn
Degree of RecognitionInternational