Radical Construction Grammar: Syntactic Theory in Typological Perspective

Paperback | July 1, 2001

byWilliam Croft

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Radical Construction Grammar presents a profound critique of syntactic theory and argumentation, and offers a genuinely new approach to syntax based on the fact of grammatical diversity. Recent syntactic theories are essentially formal models for the representation of grammatical knowledge andposit complex syntactic structures in the analysis of sentences. The result has been a endless cycle of new and revised theories of syntactic representation. Radical Construction Grammar argues that this approach to syntax is incompatible with the grammatical variation found within and across languages. This book defends three fundamental theses: (i) constructions are the primitive units of syntactic representation, and grammatical categories are definedby constructions, not the other way around; (ii) the only syntactic structures are the part-whole relations between a construction and the syntactic elements that make it up; (iii) not only are grammatical categories construction-specific, but constructions are language-specific. In other words,syntactic structure is almost entirely language-specific; attempts to find a universal formal model are doomed to failure. Radical Construction Grammar integrates concepts from typological theory and construction grammar to uncover the genuine universals of grammar. Constructions are represented as complex symbolic units pairing form and meaning. The semantic map model of typological theory is used to map categorydistributions on a largely universal conceptual space. Universals of grammar are found in the mapping of meaning onto form. Systematic patterns of grammatical variation provide evidence for the topography of conceptual space, which in turn reflects the geography of the human mind.

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Radical Construction Grammar presents a profound critique of syntactic theory and argumentation, and offers a genuinely new approach to syntax based on the fact of grammatical diversity. Recent syntactic theories are essentially formal models for the representation of grammatical knowledge andposit complex syntactic structures in the a...

William Croft received his Ph.D. in linguistics at Stanford University in 1986. His publications includeTypology and Universals (1990), Syntactic Categories and Grammatical Relations (1991), Studies in Typology and Diachrony (coedited with Keith Denning and Suzanne Kemmer, 1990), Explaining Language Change: An Evolutionary Approach (2...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:448 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.94 inPublished:July 1, 2001Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198299540

ISBN - 13:9780198299547

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Table of Contents

Part I: Against Syntactic Categories as Theoretical Primitives1. Syntactic Argumentation and Radical Construction Grammar2. Parts of Speech3. Syntactic Categories and Semantic Relativity4. Grammatical Relations/Syntactic RolesPart II: Against Syntactic Relations5. Dependency, Constituency, and Linear Order6. A Radical Approach to Syntactic Relations7. Heads, Complements, and AdjunctsPart III: Against Universal Syntactic Constructions8. The Voice Continuum9. The Coordination-Subordination Continuum10. Syntactic Theory and the Theory of Language

Editorial Reviews

`Croft's Radical Construction Grammar is a welcome contribution bearing on an issue of basic importance to linguistic theory: the nature and status of grammatical categories. His innovative examination of this question from a functionalist and typological perspective refocuses the debate in afundamental way. It deserves to be seriously considered by all linguists regardless of their theoretical orientation.'Ronald W. Langacker, University of California, San Diego