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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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Rules and Restrictions

Rules and Restrictions

(p.215) 8 Rules and Restrictions
Cognitive Grammar

Ronald W. Langacker

Oxford University Press

Language is both cognitive and sociocultural, consisting in conventionally sanctioned patterns of communicative activity. These patterns take the form of schemas abstracted from usage events by the reinforcement of recurring commonalities. Conventional linguistic units are linked by relationships of composition and categorization (either elaboration or extension) and thus form intersecting networks of great complexity. Expressions are interpreted and assessed for well-formedness through categorization by linguistic units. Through a process of interactive activation, particular units are selected to categorize particular facets of an expression. The total set of categorizing relationships constitutes the expression's structural description, and whether the categorizations involve elaboration or extension determines its degree of conventionality. Despite the absence of explicit prohibitions, this model affords an account of distribution, restrictions, and judgments of ungrammaticality. One aspect of grammatical constructions is their characterization at different levels of specificity, including constructional subschemas incorporating specific lexical items. And since one aspect of lexical items is their occurrence in particular constructions, lexicon and grammar are overlapping rather than disjoint. The model accommodates degrees and kinds of regularity, which decomposes into generality, productivity, and compositionality. Regularities include higher-order generalizations, where sets of categorizations or lexical behaviors are themselves schematized to form productive patterns. Among the phenomena described in this manner are patterns of phonological extension (phonological rules), patterns of semantic extension (e.g. general metonymies), and patterns of morphological realization (like conjugation classes).

Keywords:   categorization, communicative activity, composition, compositionality, conjugation class, construction, constructional (sub)schema, conventional linguistic unit, distribution, elaboration, extension, generality, higher-order generalization, interactive activation, lexical item, lexicon and grammar, linguistic convention, metonymy, network, phonological rule, productivity, regularity, reinforcement, restrictiveness, schema, (un)grammaticality, usage event, well-formedness

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