Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Cognitive GrammarA Basic Introduction$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

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

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 15 January 2021

Major Subclasses

Major Subclasses

(p.128) 5 Major Subclasses
Cognitive Grammar

Ronald W. Langacker

Oxford University Press

Despite being polar opposites conceptually, the two most fundamental grammatical classes—noun and verb—show extensive parallelism. One similarity is that both divide into two major subclasses: count vs. mass for nouns, perfective vs. imperfective for verbs. Allowing for the intrinsic conceptual difference between nouns and verbs, these oppositions are precisely the same. The essential feature of count nouns and perfective verbs is that the profiled thing or process is construed as being bounded within the immediate scope in a particular cognitive domain: the domain of instantiation, characterized as the domain where instances of a type are primarily conceived as residing and are distinguished from one another by their locations. For nouns, the domain of instantiation varies, although space is prototypical; for verbs, the relevant domain is always time. Correlated with bounding are other distinguishing properties: internal heterogeneity (for count and perfective) vs. homogeneity (for mass and imperfective); contractibility (the property of masses and imperfectives whereby any subpart of an instance is itself an instance of its type); and expansibility (whereby combining two mass or imperfective instances yields a single, larger instance). Count vs. mass and perfective vs. imperfective are not rigid lexical distinctions, but are malleable owing to alternate construals as well as systematic patterns of extension. The conceptual characterization of perfective and imperfective verbs explains their contrasting behavior with respect to the English progressive and present tense.

Keywords:   bounding, construal, count noun, domain of instantiation, immediate scope, imperfective verb, mass noun, noun, perfective verb, present tense, progressive, semantic extension, type vs. instance, verb

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .