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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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General Characterization

(p.161) 6 Constructions
Cognitive Grammar

Ronald W. Langacker

Oxford University Press

Grammar consists in patterns for assembling symbolically complex expressions. Such expressions are characterized as assemblies of symbolic structures, also called constructions. In large measure, symbolic assemblies are hierarchically arranged: at a given level of organization, component symbolic structures are integrated to form a composite symbolic structure, which can in turn function as component structure at a higher level, and so on. Component structures are integrated both semantically and phonologically, the phonological integration serving to symbolize the semantic integration. Although linguistic meanings are only partially compositional, compositional patterns are essential to the formation and understanding of novel expressions. These patterns are themselves symbolic assemblies, differing from expressions just by virtue of being schematic rather than specific; they are thus referred to as constructional schemas. Abstracted from occurring expressions, these schemas serve as templates for assembling and assessing new ones. A distinction is made between unipolar and bipolar organization, depending on whether the elements involved are delimited solely on semantic or phonological grounds or whether they are delimited by their participation in symbolic relationships. That is, unipolar organization is a matter of phonological or conceptual structure per se, considered independently of symbolic relationships, whereas bipolar organization pertains to the semantic and phonological structures which function in lexicon and grammar. Unipolar and bipolar organization do not have to match at either the semantic or the phonological pole.

Keywords:   bipolar organization, component structure, composite structure, composition, compositionality, conceptual integration, construction, constructional schema, grammar, hierarchy, level of organization, novel expression, phonological pole, schema, semantic pole, symbolic assembly, symbolic complexity, symbolization, unipolar organization

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