LINGUIST List 12.2807

Thu Nov 8 2001

Books: Syntax

Editor for this issue: Richard John Harvey <>

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  1. PEEL, Alison, Syntax: Radical Construction Grammar..., William Croft

Message 1: Syntax: Radical Construction Grammar..., William Croft

Date: Thu, 8 Nov 2001 17:26:29 -0000
From: PEEL, Alison <>
Subject: Syntax: Radical Construction Grammar..., William Croft

Radical Construction Grammar - 
Syntactic Theory in Typological Perspective

Author: William Croft,
Professor of Linguistics at the University of Manchester

Radical Construction Grammar presents a profound critique of syntactic
theory and argumentation, and offers a genuinely new approach to
syntax based on the fact of grammatical diversity. Recent syntactic
theories are essentially formal models for the representation of
grammatical knowledge and posit complex syntactic structures in the
analysis of sentences. The result has been a endless cycle of new and
revised theories of syntactic representation.
Radical Construction Grammar argues that this approach to syntax is
incompatible with the grammatical variation found within and across
languages. This book defends three fundamental theses: (i)
constructions are the primitive units of syntactic representation, and
grammatical categories are defined by constructions, not the other way
around; (ii) the only syntactic structures are the part-whole
relations between a construction and the syntactic elements that make
it up; (iii) not only are grammatical categories
construction-specific, but constructions are language-specific. In
other words, syntactic structure is almost entirely language-specific;
attempts to find a universal formal model are doomed to failure.
Radical Construction Grammar integrates concepts from typological
theory and construction grammar to uncover the genuine universals of
grammar. Constructions are represented as complex symbolic units
pairing form and meaning. The semantic map model of typological theory
is used to map category distributions on a largely universal
conceptual space. Universals of grammar are found in the mapping of
meaning onto form. Systematic patterns of grammatical variation
provide evidence for the topography of conceptual space, which in turn
reflects the geography of the human mind.

Paperback, ISBN: 0-19-829954-0
Hardback, ISBN: 0-19-829955-9
UK Publication date: 25 October 2001
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Monday, July 23, 2001