Research team

Grammar and Pragmatics

Expertise

My research is primarily informed by a cognitive-functional and usage-based approach to language, combined with a pragmatic focus on the analysis of actual language in use, mainly via the use of corpora. My main interests include tense/aspect/modality (in a variety of languages), the interface between grammatical constructions and pragmatics, and cognitive and “constructional” theories of grammar.

What can language variation tell us about insubordination? A comparative analysis of independent complement clauses in geographical and stylistic varieties of Spanish. 01/10/2016 - 30/09/2020

Abstract

This project analyzes the dialectal variation of insubordination, the phenomenon whereby a formally subordinate or dependent clause is conventionally used as a main or independent clause (Evans 2007). The empirical focus is on the functional load of que-insubordinate clauses, which are the most frequent insubordinate constructions in Spanish. Que-initial sentences can display several functions in interaction: third-person imperatives, wishes, negative evaluation, echo, disagreement, topic change, etc. Considering their high polyfunctionality, this project addresses two interrelated questions. The first research question (RQ1) concerns the historical dimension of insubordination: how is the diachronic development of insubordinate constructions to be modelled precisely? To answer this question this project builds on the assumption that synchronic variation reflects diachronic evolution (Hopper & Traugott 2003: 1). The second research question (RQ2) deals with the functional load of insubordination: if insubordinate constructions express more than one meaning, on what basis then should it be decided whether we are dealing with one (polysemous) construction or with more than one construction, each expressing a different meaning (homonymy)? In order to properly respond to these questions, the project is based is based on a quantitative and qualitative corpus analysis adopting an interactional constructional approach to language. The analysis will be performed on different corpora that include spoken spontaneous conversations of the main dialectal areas of European and American Spanish. The objective of this project is twofold. From a descriptive point of view, the project attempts to map the situated meanings of independent complement constructions and describe their distribution across selected varieties of Spanish. At a theoretical level and along the lines of the overall Construction-Grammatical approach adopted here, the project aims to model the situated meanings extracted from the corpora in the form of constructional networks, which acknowledge both generalizations and low-level patterns, as well as potential dialectal specificities. This should allow us to extend the framework of Construction Grammar, so that it can accommodate variational data. Moreover, since the networks resulting from the analysis represent synchronic variation of complement insubordination in Spanish, they can shed light on the current debate regarding the diachronic evolution of insubordination. Finally, the project investigates what types of contextual information are required to fully explain the use of these constructions in interaction (conditions on precedent and subsequent discourse, discourse-structural information, information structure, amongst other) and how this information should be formally represented.

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Research team(s)

The interaction between tense and lexical and grammatical aspect. A comparative study of present-time marking in the verbal paradigm. 01/10/2012 - 30/09/2014

Abstract

This project focuses on the interaction between time reference and classes of lexical aspect (actionality) and of grammatical aspect, from a cross-linguistic perspective. It starts from the observation that the actional features of a verb (e.g. the stativity, telicity, punctuality etc. of the situation designated) and its viewpoint aspect (perfective versus imperfective) often determine the way in which present-time reference is brought about. In many languages, stative and imperfective situations can readily be located in the present through the use of what may be called a present-tense marker. With dynamic and perfective situations, on the other hand, this marker will typically be given a non-present interpretation: past or perfect in some languages, future in other languages and in yet other languages a generic or habitual interpretation arises. This project intends to account for the problem of present-time reference with dynamic/perfectivized verbs, to describe in detail the strategies different languages employ to solve this problem, and to examine what the critical variables are in choosing a particular strategy. At the same time, more fine-grained aspectual and actional distinctions will be introduced than the ones employed in previous studies of this subject.

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Research team(s)

The interaction between tense and lexical and grammatical aspect. A comparative study of present-time marking in the verbal paradigm. 01/10/2010 - 30/09/2012

Abstract

This project focuses on the interaction between time reference and classes of lexical aspect (actionality) and of grammatical aspect, from a cross-linguistic perspective. It starts from the observation that the actional features of a verb (e.g. the stativity, telicity, punctuality etc. of the situation designated) and its viewpoint aspect (perfective versus imperfective) often determine the way in which present-time reference is brought about. In many languages, stative and imperfective situations can readily be located in the present through the use of what may be called a present-tense marker. With dynamic and perfective situations, on the other hand, this marker will typically be given a non-present interpretation: past or perfect in some languages, future in other languages and in yet other languages a generic or habitual interpretation arises. This project intends to account for the problem of present-time reference with dynamic/perfectivized verbs, to describe in detail the strategies different languages employ to solve this problem, and to examine what the critical variables are in choosing a particular strategy. At the same time, more fine-grained aspectual and actional distinctions will be introduced than the ones employed in previous studies of this subject.

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Research team(s)

The interface between Aktionsart and grammatical tense: A comparative study of the polyfunctionality of present-tense marking in the verbal paradigm. 01/10/2009 - 30/09/2010

Abstract

This project purports an in-depth, cross-linguistic study of the interaction between Aktionsart (lexical aspect) and the present tense. The focus lies on the polyfunctionality of what is conventionally described as a present-tense marker in many languages. Whereas such a marker can naturally combine with stative predicates to yield a present-time reading, dynamic verbs often turn out to be conceptually incompatible with these present-tense markers, which then get another, non-present reading. The main goal of this investigation is to describe and account for this conceptual problem in a number of genetically and geographically unrelated languages.

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Research team(s)

Conceptual viewpoints: Elements of a cognitive account of English tense. 01/10/2006 - 31/03/2008

Abstract

The main objective of this project is to provide an abstract and comprehensive account of English tense, on the basis of cognitive mechanisms which may be independently motivated. The empirical work on tense, aspect, and modal markers in English will serve to inform this account, which aims at a level of explicitness deemed necessary for the purpose of modeling a language's tense system.

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Research team(s)

Time and subjectivity: a cognitive and comparative inquiry into the conceptual status of aspect and tense categories in grammar 01/10/2003 - 30/09/2006

Abstract

This study investigates the relation between categories of tense (and certain manifestations of grammatical aspect) on one hand, and differences in the degree of 'subjectification' marking their semantic pole on the other. Besides their grammatical status as grounding predications, these categories are subject to additional processes of subjectification, operating on the products of grammaticalization and thus transcending the transformation of a lexical into a grammatical predication. They give rise to the development of nonreferential meanings for items containing distinct elements of temporal reference in their prototypical uses. The present study therefore concentrates on usage types that are removed from the description of objective relations in time, moving towards the expression of subjective concerns. It is anticipated that (clausal) grounding predications demonstrate subtle internal as well as external distinctions in subjectivity, and thus in semantic status. Despite the clear focus on English in the case studies that are proposed, these remarks should be construed as holding universally.

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Grounding: the epistemic footing of deixis and reference 01/10/2000 - 30/09/2003

Abstract

The project follows two lines of investigation. First, a theoretical frame is set which acknowledges the epistemic nature of grounding. This perspective considers the interpretive qualities that reside in referential functions of nominals and finite verb forms. The way in which grounding predications establish referential locations is not seen as stipulated by their semantics, but as following from general information types that such predications assign to referents, like their reality status or degree of givenness. Secondly, the project involves an empirical program that focuses on a methodological move away from the study of prototypical grounding functions to that peripheral ones, revealing the principles that motivate the referential force of grounding predications. For individual constructions, it is shown how usage types in modal, discursive, and affective contexts are essential to an understanding of their grounding behavior. The analytical apparatus deploys concepts taken from cognitive grammar.

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    Reference in language: a phenomenological enquiry into the temporal and spatial foundations of linguistic conceptualisations within the framework of cognitive grammar. 01/10/1994 - 30/09/1996

    Abstract

    The project will deal with time and space as concepts within the field of theoretical linguistics. These concepts will be grounded within the phenomenological tradition. In practice, they are to be related to terms of reference and the original speech situation. Morphological and syntactic phenomena can then be seen from a (pragmatic and functional) deictic angle.

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    Research team(s)

      Reference in language: a phenomenological enquiry into the temporal and spatial foundations of linguistic conceptualisations within the framework of cognitive grammar. 01/10/1992 - 30/09/1994

      Abstract

      The project will deal with time and space as concepts within the field of theoretical linguistics. These concepts will be grounded within the phenomenological tradition. In practice, they are to be related to terms of reference and the original speech situation. Morphological and syntactic phenomena can then be seen from a (pragmatic and functional) deictic angle.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)