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Cognitive GrammarA Basic Introduction$
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Ronald Langacker

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195331967

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331967.001.0001

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Complex Sentences

Complex Sentences

(p.406) 12 Complex Sentences
Cognitive Grammar

Ronald W. Langacker

Oxford University Press

The distinction between coordination and subordination is not clear-cut. The essence of coordination is the mental juxtaposition of structures construed as parallel and co-equal. Subordination has a number of dimensions, including form, the participation of one clause in the relationship profiled by another, and a clause's profile being overridden at the composite structure level. Constituency and profiling are often flexible, depending on factors like the size of clauses and their discourse function. The traditional division into adverbial, relative, and complement clauses is based primarily on how clauses are connected with one another. To the extent that these distinctions hold, they are based on semantic function rather than specific structural configurations. In the case of complements, the classic distinction between control and raising constructions is non-fundamental, the latter being just a special case of the former. Finite and nonfinite complements differ not just in form but in meaning and typical function. Predicates taking finite complements pertain to the epistemic status of propositions; those taking nonfinite complements pertain to the realization of occurrences. Complementation involves multiple conceptualizers and levels of conception. Different conceptualizers apprehend the same proposition each from their own perspective, assessing it with respect to their own conception of reality. Complement-taking predicates refer to different phases of this assessment. Impersonal constructions invoke a conceptualizer and the relevant scope of awareness in generalized fashion, suggesting that anyone would make the assessment under the circumstances.

Keywords:   adverbial clause, complement clause, complement-taking predicate, composite structure, conceptualizer, constituency, control, coordination, discourse, epistemic assessment, finite complement, impersonal construction, nonfinite complement, profiling, proposition, raising construction, relative clause, scope, semantic function, subordination

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