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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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A Radical Approach to Syntactic Relations

A Radical Approach to Syntactic Relations

(p.203) 6 A Radical Approach to Syntactic Relations
Radical Construction Grammar

William Croft (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The central argument of this chapter is that a construction grammar, in which syntactic structures are paired with their semantic interpretations, can and should dispense with syntactic relations between the syntactic units (hence, syntactic units are joined together only by virtue of the role each holds in the entire construction). All the necessary information for the correct inference of the meaning of an utterance is found in a construction without syntactic relations. If there were syntactic relations, one would expect that they would consistently map onto semantic relations (iconicity). But a wide range of putative syntactic relations are not iconic. Also, one or more elements of a syntactic relation are frequently absent (e.g., ‘agreement’ does not agree with any syntactic unit). Instead, the linguistic evidence allegedly justifying syntactic relations (such as agreement and case marking) actually expresses symbolic relations linking the syntactic unit to its semantic counterpart in the construction.

Keywords:   construction, syntactic units, iconicity, agreement, case marking, symbolic relations

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