Universidade de Vigo

Prof Adele E. Goldberg taught on Construction Grammar at the research unit

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Prof Adele E. Goldberg was invited by LVTC to teach a seminar on Construction Grammar and to lecture on "Constructions: The Nature of Generalizations in Language" at the Faculty of Philology and Translation in Vigo in May 2006. [Watch the lecture...]

Cv details

Professor of Linguistics at the University of Princeton, Adele E. Goldberg obtained her PhD in Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently Editor-in-Chief of Cognitive Linguistics (Mouton de Gruyter) and has been the Associate Editor of Language (Linguistic Society of America) from 2002 to 2005. Well-known are her monographs Constructions: A Construction Grammar Approach to Argument Structure (1995, University of Chicago Press) and Constructions at Work: The Nature of Generalization in Language (2006, Oxford University Press).

Abstract of the seminar

This course emphasized the commonalities among words, idioms and more abstract syntactic patterns in that all are pairings of form and function. This emphasis allows us to draw many parallels between language and other cognitive processes such as categorization, parallels that in turn raise the issue of whether language may emerge from a combination of general cognitive abilities, without requiring a unique language faculty. We ask: How do children generalize beyond what they hear in order to learn their rich and complex knowledge of language? How can we explain the fact that there exist generalizations that hold across languages?

Specific contents:

  1. Exemplars, prototypes, extensions, metaphor
  2. Surface generalizations
  3. How and why constructions are learned
  4. Explaining generalizations: island constraints and scope, crosslinguistic generalizations in argument realization.

A new theoretical approach to language has emerged that allows linguistic observations about form-meaning pairings constructions -- to be stated directly, providing long-standing traditions with a framework that allows both generalizations and exceptional cases to be accounted for fully. Constructions, including morphemes or words, idioms, partially lexically filled and fully abstract phrasal patterns, are understood to be learned on the basis of the input together with general cognitive mechanisms. An emphasis is placed on subtle aspects of construal and of surface form. Cross-linguistic generalizations are captured by appeal to general cognitive constraints together with the functions of the constructions involved.