Gradience in the inventory of grammatical categories in English


Prof Bas Aarts (Professor of English Linguistics and Director of the Survey of English Usage at the Department of English Language and Literature, University College London) kindly accepted our invitation to conduct a seminar on "Mixed constructions in English" in May 2007.

Cv details

After completing a BA and an MA at the University of Utrecht, and an MA and a PhD in English Linguistics at the University of London, Bas Aarts entered the Department of English Language and Literature, University College London, where he was appointed Professor of English Linguistics in 2003. Since January 1997 Bas Aarts has been the Director of the Survey of English Usage, an internationally recognised and highly regarded centre of excellence for research in the area of English language and linguistics, founded by Prof Randolph Quirk in 1959.

The book Exploring natural languge: working with the British component of the International Corpus of English, on the ICE-GB project, which was completed under Prof Aarts’ leadership, was co-authored by Gerald Nelson, Sean Wallis and himself and in 2002. Bas Aarts is a founding editor of the scholarly journal English Language and Linguistics (Cambridge University Press). He is also a member of the editorial board of Studies in English Language (Cambridge University Press). Well-known are his monograph Small clauses in English: the nonverbal types (1992, Mouton de Gruyter) as well as the collective volumes, which he has co-edited, Fuzzy grammar: a reader (2004, Oxford University Press) and The handbook of English linguistics (2006, Blackwell). His textbook English syntax and argumentation (1997, 2nd ed 2001, Palgrave Macmillan) is used in many Universities around the world.

Abstract of the seminar

The course focused on the phenomenon in English where constructions display properies of more than one grammatical pattern. Three types of mixings were distinguished and discussed in detail, namely mergers, blends and fusions. Prof Aarts argued that mergers are ‘on the hoof’ coinages, while blends and fusions can be dealt with in terms of constructional gradience. During this seminar, Prof Aarts described the model of gradience developed in Aarts (2007) to deal with blends and fusions.


Aarts, Bas (2007) Syntactic gradience: the nature of grammatical indeterminacy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.