The book by William Croft 'Verbs. Aspect and Causal Structure' assembles, in a unitary model, the main issues which influenced the Author’s reach and notable linguistic rasearch across years: the cognitive processes underlying language production and comprehension (Croft, 2001; Croft & Cruse, 2004), the notion of crosslinguistic variation and its implications for the study of language change (Croft, 2003, 2000a), the interaction between formal and functional domains of language (Croft, 2001). Croft’s important contributions to theoretical and typological linguistics – including the strand of typological investigation that aims at identifying the interaction between cultural and natural factors in language organization and change – provide the background for this book, which focuses on one of the Author’s chief area of interest: i.e., verbal semantics and, specifically, the representation of event structure and the mechanisms for argument realization. The encoding of event types and their participants is analyzed and discussed here within the theoretical framework of the Construction Grammar (see Langacker, 1987, 1991, 2008; Goldberg, 1995, 2006; Croft, 2001; among others) and, specifically, Croft’s “radical” version of it, which strongly emphasizes the non-independence of the so-called modules of language or, rather, of language analysis: that is, the formal dimensions of language systems (including syntax, morphology and phonology) and the functional dimensions (including semantics, pragmatics and discourse properties). Construction Grammar model developed within the general frame of Cognitive (and Functional) Linguistics, in which the central idea is the interaction between forms and functions and, specifically, the interface between semantic (and pragmatic) properties and morphosyntax. Construction Grammar exploit “schematic” templates to provide the most comprehensive analysis of linguistic data, in order to show that «there are universals of language, but not in syntactic structures taken by itself. The universals of language are found in semantic structure and in symbolic structure, that is, the mapping between linguistic function and linguistic form» (Croft, 2001: 61). Constructions are abstract (“schematic”) units, entrenched in speakers’ knowledge about language, consisting of a pairing of form and meaning. Therefore, they refer to either complex syntactic structures, such as the transitive construction, or concrete lexical items such as 'kiss'. Meaning specifically refers here to the semantic structures for an experience: that is, the ways of representing our apprehension of the world, that are relevant to linguistic coding. These semantic structures are called construals. Different linguistic constructions “profile” different features of the construals. The empirical linguistic generalizations that this book offers explanations for pertain mainly to two families of constructions, i.e., tense-aspect constructions and argument structure constructions: specifically, the so-called “coding constructions”, such as case marking, agreement (or indexation) and word order, which directly encode the participant roles for events. Since grammatical categories such as subject and object appear to be not only language-specific, but also construction-specific, the analysis aims at investigating the semantic factors underlying argument coding. The guiding idea of the book is that event structure primarily determines argument realization. This critical review aims at showing how large and deep are the perspectives of the studies on verbs, which constantly shed new light on linguistic questions, for which inter-disciplinary factors appear to be increasingly important.

William Croft, Verbs. Aspect and Causal Structure. A book review by D. Romagno

ROMAGNO, DOMENICA
2014

Abstract

The book by William Croft 'Verbs. Aspect and Causal Structure' assembles, in a unitary model, the main issues which influenced the Author’s reach and notable linguistic rasearch across years: the cognitive processes underlying language production and comprehension (Croft, 2001; Croft & Cruse, 2004), the notion of crosslinguistic variation and its implications for the study of language change (Croft, 2003, 2000a), the interaction between formal and functional domains of language (Croft, 2001). Croft’s important contributions to theoretical and typological linguistics – including the strand of typological investigation that aims at identifying the interaction between cultural and natural factors in language organization and change – provide the background for this book, which focuses on one of the Author’s chief area of interest: i.e., verbal semantics and, specifically, the representation of event structure and the mechanisms for argument realization. The encoding of event types and their participants is analyzed and discussed here within the theoretical framework of the Construction Grammar (see Langacker, 1987, 1991, 2008; Goldberg, 1995, 2006; Croft, 2001; among others) and, specifically, Croft’s “radical” version of it, which strongly emphasizes the non-independence of the so-called modules of language or, rather, of language analysis: that is, the formal dimensions of language systems (including syntax, morphology and phonology) and the functional dimensions (including semantics, pragmatics and discourse properties). Construction Grammar model developed within the general frame of Cognitive (and Functional) Linguistics, in which the central idea is the interaction between forms and functions and, specifically, the interface between semantic (and pragmatic) properties and morphosyntax. Construction Grammar exploit “schematic” templates to provide the most comprehensive analysis of linguistic data, in order to show that «there are universals of language, but not in syntactic structures taken by itself. The universals of language are found in semantic structure and in symbolic structure, that is, the mapping between linguistic function and linguistic form» (Croft, 2001: 61). Constructions are abstract (“schematic”) units, entrenched in speakers’ knowledge about language, consisting of a pairing of form and meaning. Therefore, they refer to either complex syntactic structures, such as the transitive construction, or concrete lexical items such as 'kiss'. Meaning specifically refers here to the semantic structures for an experience: that is, the ways of representing our apprehension of the world, that are relevant to linguistic coding. These semantic structures are called construals. Different linguistic constructions “profile” different features of the construals. The empirical linguistic generalizations that this book offers explanations for pertain mainly to two families of constructions, i.e., tense-aspect constructions and argument structure constructions: specifically, the so-called “coding constructions”, such as case marking, agreement (or indexation) and word order, which directly encode the participant roles for events. Since grammatical categories such as subject and object appear to be not only language-specific, but also construction-specific, the analysis aims at investigating the semantic factors underlying argument coding. The guiding idea of the book is that event structure primarily determines argument realization. This critical review aims at showing how large and deep are the perspectives of the studies on verbs, which constantly shed new light on linguistic questions, for which inter-disciplinary factors appear to be increasingly important.
Romagno, Domenica
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11568/376467
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