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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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The Coordination—Subordination Continuum

The Coordination—Subordination Continuum

(p.320) 9 The Coordination—Subordination Continuum
Radical Construction Grammar

William Croft (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The distinction between coordination and subordination is claimed to be a structural universal. However, the structural criteria used to distinguish coordination from subordination do not match up across languages. This chapter proposes a functional analysis of complex sentence structure in terms of the Gestalt distinction between figure and ground. Coordination and complements constitute a complex figure (following Wierzbicka), while adverbial clauses and relative clauses constitute a figure-ground structure (following Talmy and Reinhart). Coordination and complementation are linked by grammaticalization, via serial verb constructions, and adverbial clauses and relative clauses are also linked by grammaticalization. Comparative and conditional relations are ambivalent, and expressed crosslinguistically by either complex figure or figure-ground constructions. A conceptual space is presented to account for Cristofaro’s implicational hierarchies for different types of semantic relations between situations and their encoding as balanced (asserted, and more coordinate-like) and deranked (nonasserted, less coordinate-like) complex sentence constructions.

Keywords:   figure, ground, complement, relative clause, adverbial clause, medial verb, serial verb, complex sentence

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