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Radical Construction GrammarSyntactic Theory in Typological Perspective$
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William Croft

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780198299554

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198299554.001.0001

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Syntactic Theory and the Theory of Language

Syntactic Theory and the Theory of Language

(p.362) 10 Syntactic Theory and the Theory of Language
Radical Construction Grammar

William Croft (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Radical Construction Grammar is a construction grammar, in which syntactic representation is a pairing of form and meaning. Constructions are the basic, primitive units of syntactic representation; syntactic categories are roles in constructions. The only type of syntactic relation is the role of a syntactic unit in its construction. Constructions are language-specific, though their structural properties can be mapped onto a syntactic space. Categories are mapped onto conceptual space, which represents the constraints of typological universals and reflects properties of the human mind. Radical Construction Grammar is embedded in an evolutionary theory of language. Utterances are instantiations of constructions in communicative interaction. But communication is imperfect, since we cannot read each other’s minds. Speakers are constantly reanalysing the form-meaning mapping in constructions, and this process leads to grammatical change, which can be propagated through a speech community. Grammar is thus constantly evolving as it is continually replicated in language use.

Keywords:   construction, syntactic categories, conceptual space, syntactic representation, utterance, evolution, communication, reanalysis, language use

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