Construction Grammar

Course time: 
Monday/Thursday 1:30-3:20 PM
JSB 108

Much like other approaches in the generative tradition, a constructionist approach to grammar models linguistic knowledge as represented in the mind of an ordinary language user. Constructionist approaches differ from other generative approaches, however, in representing such knowledge as an inventory of symbolic constructions. Rather than dividing linguistic knowledge into grammatical rules/principles and lexical information, constructionist approaches instead capture grammatical generalizations using a structured inventory of linguistic expressions ranging in size from morphemes to complex words to multi-word expressions and ranging in specificity from phonologically-specified lexical entries to abstract form-meaning pairings. In this course, we will consider the following questions:

  • What are the basic tenets of constructionist approaches, and what types of data have motivated these approaches?
  • How do constructionist approaches capture morphological, syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic information associated with idioms, verb-argument structure, information structure, and mixed categories?
  • How do constructionist approaches capture similarities and differences among related constructions of the same language?
  • How are cross-linguistic generalizations captured in constructionist approaches?
  • In what ways do data from child language acquisition and adult language processing support and extend constructionist approaches?

Schedule of Topics

1              Overview: constructionist views of language      

2              Idioms 

3              Argument structure constructions          

4              Information structure constructions       

5              Funny NPs and mixed categories             

6              Cross-linguistic generalizations: argument realization and parts of speech            

7              Construction grammar and child language           

8              Construction grammar and language processing