LINGUIST List 5.388

Mon 04 Apr 1994

Disc: Mainstream linguistics

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  1. Alexis Manaster Ramer, Re: 5.380 Mainstream Linguistics

Message 1: Re: 5.380 Mainstream Linguistics

Date: Sun, 3 Apr 94 10:09:17 -04Re: 5.380 Mainstream Linguistics
From: Alexis Manaster Ramer <>
Subject: Re: 5.380 Mainstream Linguistics

Recent postings make it seem, perhaps inadvertently, that the idea
of constructions as bearers of meanings is new and a departure from
the generative approach. However, the very definition of construction
in Bloomfield's immediate constituent work was precisely a pairing of
form and meaning, and there are many examples of this in practice in
his book Language, in his article on Ilokano syntax, and in his
posthumous grammar of Menomini (a bit of this history is discussed
in my paper "Ever since Bloomfield" in the proceedings of the last

The dropping of the meaning component, as well as of several parts
of Bloomfield's theory of the form of constructions (notably, his
treatment of discontinuity, of free word order, of zeroes or ellipses,
of crossclassification, and of constructions with an unbounded number
of constituents) was just part of what happened when Harris and then
Chomsky tried to "formalize" Bloomfield's theory.

Re Lakoff's work, I would call attention to his paper in the recently
published McCawley festscrift in which he defends the performatiive
hypothesis. That surely is not part of lexical semantics.
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