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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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Parts of Speech

Parts of Speech

(p.63) 2 Parts of Speech
Radical Construction Grammar

William Croft (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Most grammatical theories assume that the parts of speech — noun, verb, adjective — are categories of particular languages, but may be absent in some languages. But standard analyses are arbitrary and inconsistent about the constructions used to define syntactic categories, which leads some theorists to lump words into fewer categories and others to split words into more categories. One can be rigorous and consistent in analysis by using the same constructions across languages, namely the constructions denoting the propositional acts of reference, predication and modification, and comparing the structural coding and behavioral potential of semantic classes of lexical roots. This rigorous approach leads to universal prototypes for noun (reference to an object), verb (predication of an action), and adjective (modification by a property). Language-specific categories are represented as semantic maps on a universal conceptual space, constrained by the part of speech prototypes.

Keywords:   noun, verb, adjective, syntactic categories, semantic map, prototype, semantic class, propositional act, conceptual space

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