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Construction Grammar and its Application to English

Martin Hilpert

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Introduces Construction Grammar as a cognitive-functional theory of language, applied to the structures of English

What do speakers of English know in order to produce utterances that other speakers will understand? Construction Grammar explains how knowledge of language is organized in speakers' minds. The central and radical claim of Construction Grammar is that linguistic knowledge can be fully described as knowledge of constructions, which are defined as symbolic units that connect a linguistic form with meaning. The implications of this claim are far-reaching: in Construction Grammar, not only lexical items, but also syntactic patterns are seen as symbolic, meaningful units. Instead of being meaningless structural templates, syntactic patterns actively contribute to the overall meaning of an utterance. Knowledge of language is thought of as a vast repository of interrelated symbolic units, and nothing else in addition. This book expands on this idea and familiarizes readers with the central concepts of Construction Grammar, as applied to English constructions. In the process, it explains how the theory of Construction Grammar relates to issues of language processing, language acquisition, and language variation and change.

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Contents

Preface: To readers: Why you shouldn’t pick up, let alone read this book
1. Introduction
2. Argument structure
3. Inside the construct-i-con
4. Constructional morphology
5. Information packaging
6. Constructions and language processing
7. Constructions and language acquisition
8. Variation and change
9. Concluding remarks

About the Author

Martin Hilpert works as Assistant Professor of English Linguistics at the Université de Neuchâtel. Besides Construction Grammar, his research interests include corpus linguistics, language variation and change, and cognitive linguistics. He is the author of Germanic Future Constructions (2008, John Benjamins) and Constructional Change in English (2013, Cambridge University Press).

Reviews

Hilpert’s book is the first and only introductory textbook on Construction Grammar. It manages to convey the insights and complexities of the framework with impressive breadth, all in a very readable and engaging way.

- Adele E. Goldberg, Princeton University

An accessible introduction to the principles of CxG.

- The Year's Work in English Studies

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