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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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Descriptive Factors

(p.183) 7 Constructions
Cognitive Grammar

Ronald W. Langacker

Oxford University Press

Constructions are characterized in terms of four basic factors: correspondences, profiling, elaboration, and constituency. Correspondences are the basis for semantic and grammatical integration; they specify the conceptual and phonological overlap between component structures, as well as between the component and composite structures. Semantic integration often involves multiple correspondences. Semantic anomaly arises when corresponding elements have inconsistent properties. Usually the composite structure inherits its profile (and thus its grammatical category) from one of the component structures, which is thus the constructional head (or profile determinant). It is also usual for one component structure to elaborate a schematic substructure (an elaboration site) within the other component. A component which makes salient schematic reference to another in this manner is said to be dependent on it. Organization in relationships of autonomy/dependence (A/D-alignment) is a basic feature of language structure. The difference between complements and modifiers is a matter of whether these component structures are autonomous or dependent with respect to the constructional head. Constituency is the hierarchical aspect of symbolic assemblies. Contrary to standard views, constituency is neither fundamental nor essential to grammar, and while it does emerge, it is neither invariant nor exhaustive of grammatical structure. Grammatical relations (like subject and object) are defined on the basis of semantic factors and correspondences, and are thus independent of particular constituency configurations.

Keywords:   A/D-alignment, autonomy, complement, constituency, construction, correspondence, dependence, elaboration, elaboration site, grammatical relation, head, integration, modifier, object, profile determinant, profiling, semantic anomaly, subject

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