Cognitive Grammar represents one approach to cognitive linguistics, which in turn belongs to the functionalist (as opposed to the formalist) tradition in linguistic theory. Its central claim is that grammar is meaningful. More specifically, grammar forms a continuum with lexicon and is fully describable as assemblies of symbolic structures (form-meaning pairings). Lexicon varies with respect to the complexity of expressions and the degree of specifity of the meanings symbolized. Grammar varies along the same dimensions, being distinguished from lexicon primarily on the basis of being more schematic in regard to form as well as meaning. Cognitive Grammar is a usage-based approach, in which linguistic structure is seen as emerging by abstraction from usage events, i.e. the reinforcement of what is common across multiple instances of language use in interactive contexts. The theory is highly restrictive in what is posited, limiting linguistic units to structures that are either directly apprehended as parts of occurring expressions or else derive from such structures by the general cognitive phenomena of schematization and categorization.
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