William Croft

Abstracts of Selected Talks and Publications


Locative subjects and related constructions

Locative subject constructions such as the English existential there-construction and the Chichewa locative construction described by Bresnan & Kanerva 1989 pose difficulties for theories of linking arguments to grammatical roles, as well as being interesting in their own right. Comparison of the Chichewa locative subject construction to its counterparts in other Bantu languages, and the English there-construction to related constructions in other Germanic languages, reveals the existence of a grammaticalization path from locative subject constructions to impersonals. Locative phrases in locative inversion constructions take on at least some subject properties, then are extended into functions such as existential and weather expressions which can be construed as having locative subjects, but then are reanalyzed as impersonals, ending up being used for impersonal situation types that have nothing to do with locative subjects. I argue that locative subjects and related locative constructions can be handled by the causal model of linking developed in Croft (1991, 1996) better than by localist and prototype theories of linking, and present an analysis of the semantic changes that underlie the locative-to-impersonal grammaticalization process.


Typological traits and genetic linguistics

One of the basic principles in establishing a genetic grouping of languages is that typological traits must be excluded from consideration at the initial stage of establishment; only substantive traits (form-meaning pairings) are relevant. Yet typological evidence is still frequently appealed to in recent discussions of the methodology for establishing genetic classifications and in recent proposals for genetic affiliations. It is suggested that this is due to a conflation of typological and substantive traits in theoretical discussions of the role of 'grammar' and 'structure' in establishing genetic classifications of languages.


Social evolution and language change

We propose substantive universals in the relationship between social evolution and language change. Social anthropologists have categorized societies into roughly four broad types by social organization: bands, tribes, chiefdoms and states. This classification is evolutionary in the sense that the society types arose in human history in the sequence given above. We compare these society types to a broad classification of types of language change: divergence and several types of interference (borrowing, convergence, and contact languages-lingua francas, pidgins, creoles and stable mixed languages). Divergence results from social fission and communicative isolation; it is found in all society types, though less so with states. Interference is a result of the three main loci of societal contact: marriage, trade and political integration. Extralinguistic exogamy can occasionally lead to significant borrowing. Trade involves different types of multilingualism depending on the society type; lingua francas and trade pidgins are associated with state societies and a few chiefdoms involved in long-distance riverine/marine trade. Intensive borrowing and stable mixed languages occur with incorporation into a state society in situ, and creoles with state-driven migration (including slavery); there may be examples in chiefdoms, where incorporation sometimes occurs. Thus, certain types of language change are a recent phenomenon in human history and the uniformitarian hypothesis for language change must be abandoned, at least for contact-induced change. The implications of comparing society types with respect to linguistic processes are explored for language history and language endangerment.


Variety sampling revisited

Rijkhoff et al. (1993) and Rijkhoff & Bakker (1998) propose an algorithm for constructing variety samples of languages for typological research. They exploit the graph structure of a phylogenetic tree of languages in order to maximize genetic distance between languages in the sample. There are significant discrepancies between the goals of a variety sample and the algorithm that Rijkhoff et al. propose. The graph structure of a phylogenetic tree is not always a good stand-in for relative time-depth, which is the best measure of genetic distance between languages. An alternative algorithm is proposed. However, even an improved variety sample will not capture all linguistic diversity. A variety sample will ideally capture the limits of diversity, but it will not capture the many intermediate types that result from the gradualness of language change.


S-curves and the mechanisms of propagation in language change

A variety of mechanisms have been proposed in sociolinguistics for the propagation of an innovation through the speech community. The complexity of social systems makes it difficult to evaluate the different mechanisms empirically. We use the four-way typology of mechanisms proposed by Baxter et al. (2009), and define them mathematically in such a way that the effects of different mechanisms in the trajectory of a change can be modeled. The model suggests that the widely observed empirical pattern of an S-curve temporal trajectory of change can be captured only if the mechanisms for propagation include replicator selection, that is, differential weighting of the competing variants in a change, except under highly specialized circumstances that probably do not hold in speech communities in general


The origins of grammaticalization in the verbalization of experience

The origins of language change, particularly grammatical change, appear to be unobservable. But the first step in language change, innovation, can be observed in the production of synchronic variation in sound change. The same can be done for morphosyntactic change such as grammaticalization by comparing alternative verbalizations of the same experience in a controlled situation. Examples of innovation in lexical semantic change and grammaticalization are examined using the twenty parallel English narratives of the Pear Stories. Morphosyntactic variation is pervasive in the Pear Stories narratives and the alternative verbalizations show that morphosyntactic change is drawn from a pool of synchronic variation. These results disconfirm the traditional theory of morphosyntactic change, in which innovation is rare and special mechanisms are require to produce it. Instead, grammaticalization, and language change in general, originates in the variation inherent in the verbalization of experience.


Connecting frames and constructions: a case study of 'eat' and 'feed'.

Constructional analysis of corpus data can contribute to the analysis of a semantic frame, as demonstrated by a small corpus study of English eat and feed. The EAT/FEED frame forms part of a taxonomy of frames including the superordinate frame of CONSUME and subordinate frames of human vs. animal eating; construction and metaphor data in the corpus shows that English covertly distinguishes human and animal eating. The EAT frame includes three phases (intake, process, and ingest), differentiated lexicogrammatically. The EAT frame also includes three domains in its domain matrix: physical, biological (nutritional) and social, all clearly differentiated by distinct constructions in the corpus. An examination of metaphors with eat and feed in the corpus demonstrate that the target domain contributes image-schematic structure to the metaphorical mapping, contrary to the Invariance Hypothesis.


Modeling language change: an evaluation of Trudgill's theory of the emergence of New Zealand English

Trudgill (2004) proposes that the emergence of New Zealand English, and of isolated new dialects generally, is purely deterministic: it can be explained solely in terms of the frequency of occurrence of particular variants and the frequency of interactions between different speakers in the society. Trudgill's theory is closely related to usage-based models of language, in which frequency plays a role in the representation of linguistic knowledge and in language change. Trudgill's theory also corresponds to a neutral evolution model of language change. We use a mathematical model based on Croft's usage-based evolutionary framework for language change (Baxter et al. 2006), and investigate whether Trudgill's theory is a plausible model of the emergence of new dialects. The results of our modeling indicate that determinism cannot be a sufficient mechanism for the emergence of a new dialect. Our approach illustrates the utility of mathematical modeling of theories and of empirical data for the study of language change.


Toward a social cognitive linguistics

Cognitive linguistics starts from a set of fundamental hypotheses about the nature of grammar: grammatical structures and processes in the mind are instances of general cognitive abilities; grammar is symbolic, and thus meaning is an essential part of grammar; meaning is encyclopedic; and meaning involves conceptualization (construal). These hypotheses contrast with those found in formal linguistics, and align cognitive linguistics with functionalist theories. But language is not just a cognitive ability - if it were just that, we would not need to speak, and might not even need language at all. Language is a central feature of human social interaction, and cannot be fully understood outside of that fact. Cognitive linguistics must reach out and embed itself in a more general social theory of language.

The fundamental hypotheses of cognitive linguistics must be reformulated to reflect this fact. Linguistic cognitive abilities represent an individual's knowledge of linguistic convention, which is a coordination device for communication, which in turn is a coordination device for joint action. Our encyclopedic knowledge (that is, linguistic meaning) is situated in common ground among speakers; its basis in shared expertise and shared experience emerges from the communities of practice in which speakers partake. The symbolic unit of grammar is actually a semiotic triangle of form, meaning and the community in which the form-meaning pairing is conventional. The conceptualization of experience in grammar formulates or "packages" that experience for the purpose of communication. This social reformulation of the fundamental hypotheses of cognitive linguistics in turn has consequences for the cognitive aspect of language. In particular, I will argue that linguistic meaning is indeterminate and partly socially constructed, which leads to a variationist, utterance based, evolutionary model of grammar.


Methods for finding language universals in syntax

There are two broad theoretical traditions in research on syntactic universals, the typological and the generative. While the theoretical differences between the two approaches are well known, less known but equally important is the fact that the methods used to find and justify syntactic universals are very different between the two approaches. The generative approach, illustrated with Baker's (2003) analysis of verbal vs. nonverbal predication, proceeds "one language at a time", and draws on whatever constructions are deemed relevant to support the universal underlying structure. However, the "one language at a time" method often produces universals that fail a wider crosslinguistic comparison; but the choice of constructions used to counter anomalous evidence is an instance of methodological opportunism (Croft 2001). A rigorous method of syntactic argumentation is proposed, which is close to best practice in typological research.


Evolutionary linguistics

Both qualitative concepts and quantitative methods from evolutionary biology have been applied to linguistics. Many linguists have noted the similarity between biological evolution and language change, but usually have only employed selective analogies or metaphors. The development of generalized theories of evolutionary change (Dawkins and Hull) has spawned models of language change based on such generalized theories. These models have led to the positing of new mechanisms of language change and new types of selection that may not have biological parallels. Quantitative methods have been applied to questions of language phylogeny in the past decade. The focus has been on widely accepted families with cognates already established by the comparative method (Indo-European, Bantu, Austronesian). Increasingly sophisticated phylogeny reconstruction models have been applied to these families, to resolve questions of subgrouping, contact and migration. Little progress has been made so far in analyzing sound correspondences in the cognates themselves


Inferring universals from grammatical variation: multidimensional scaling for typological analysis

A fundamental fact about grammatical structure is that it is highly variable both across languages and within languages. Typological analysis has drawn language universals from grammatical variation, in particular by using the semantic map model. But the semantic map model, while theoretically well-motivated in typology, is not mathematically well-defined or computationally tractable, making it impossible to use with large and highly variable crosslinguistic datasets. Multidimensional scaling (MDS), in particular the Optimal Classification nonparametric unfolding algorithm, offers a powerful, formalized tool that allows linguists to infer language universals from highly complex and large-scale datasets. We compare our approach to Haspelmath's semantic map analysis of indefinite pronouns, and reanalyze Dahl's (1985) large tense-aspect dataset. MDS works best with large datasets, demonstrating the centrality of grammatical variation in inferring language universals and the importance of examining as wide a range of grammatical behavior as possible both within and across languages.


The origins of grammar in the verbalization of experience

Why is there grammar? I argue that the verbalization of experience can provide an explanatory model of the function of grammatical categories and constructions. Chafe's model of verbalization provides a model of how the unanalyzed, unique whole of experience is broken up into parts that are categorized into types, that is, the lexical roots of an utterance. We must add further processes to Chafe's model, because the speaker also must convert the types represented by the lexical roots back to the particulars of the experience, and put the parts back together into the original whole. These additional processes express the aspects of experience that become grammaticalized. A functional classification of grammatical categories and structures in terms of their role in verbalization is outlined.


Intonation units and grammatical structure in Wardaman and in crosslinguistic perspective

The distribution of grammatical units (GUs) across intonation units (IUs) is analyzed in a corpus of 2072 intonation units of Wardaman monologic oral narrative (Merlan 1994), and compared to a previously published study of English (Croft 1995) and several other languages. Since English and Wardaman are structurally very different languages, any common patterns in the mapping of grammatical units to intonation units would be of considerable interest as potential grammar-discourse universals. The Full GU Condition - IUs are almost always full GUs - holds in Wardaman as well as English and other languages. Both English and Wardaman employ a substantial number of grammatically independent noun phrase intonation units. Three factors constrain the occurrence of GUs in a single IU in English, in descending order of strength: parallelism, complexity and distance. All three factors also hold in Wardaman in the same order of strength. The behavior of the IU-GU mapping in Wardaman supports critiques of the analyses of arguments as adjuncts and of modifiers as appositive phrases. On the other hand, spoken English displays more grammatical characteristics similar to Wardaman than prescriptive written English.


Beyond Aristotle and gradience: a reply to Aarts

Aarts (2004) argues that the best way to model grammatical categories is a compromise preserving Aristotelian form classes with sharp boundaries on the one hand, and allowing gradience in terms of the number of syntactic properties that a category member possesses on the other. But the assumption of form classes causes serious theoretical and empirical problems. Constructions differ in their distributional patterns, but no a priori principles exist to decide which constructions should be used to define form classes. Grammatical categories must be defined relative to specific constructions; this is the position advocated in Radical Construction Grammar (Croft 2001). Constructionally defined categories may have sharp boundaries, but they do not divide words into form classes. Nevertheless, the most important traditional intuitions for parts of speech (Aarts' chief examples) are reinterpretable in terms of crosslinguistic universals that constrain distributional variation but do not impose Aristotelian form classes, gradable or not, on the grammars of particular languages.


Phonological development: toward a 'radical' templatic phonology

'Radical' templatic phonology is a template-based approach to segmental phonological representation. The central hypothesis is that the segmental phonological structure of words is represented as language-specific phonotactic templates, in the sense used in the developmental literature. Template-based organization of the early lexicon has been identified in children acquiring several different languages. It is the result of a usage-based abstracting or 'induction' process, based on both babbling practice (phonetic production) and input experience with specific adult phonological patterns. The resulting templates thus constitute patterns that reconcile (or 'adapt') the model provided by target words with the child's own phonetic repertoire of syllables or word shapes - typically extending or building on the forms initially 'selected' for first word production, in which adult and child forms show a close match. In adult phonology segment categories-natural classes, or features-are best defined in terms of their occurrence in positions in the templates in individual languages, not as independent universal categories. After reviewing the status of segment categories and their phonetic basis in contemporary phonological theory we present crosslinguistic evidence of pervasive variation in both phonetic realization and phonological distribution patterns, evidence that supports the template construct.


The relevance of an evolutionary model to historical linguistics

In Explaining Language Change (2000), I develop an evolutionary model of language change. This model is based on the philosopher of science David Hull's generalized analysis of selection, which is abstracted from biological specifics. In this model, I identify the replicators - the central units that evolve - as linguistic structures in utterances; they are replicated every time we open our mouths to speak. The interactors - whose behavior causes replicators to be replicated differentially - as the speakers who choose alternative forms to express meanings in particular social contexts. Variation is generated by phonetic factors in replication (for sound change) and functional factors (for grammatical change). Selection, that is, differential replication, is driven by social factors. In this paper, this model is outlined and updated, and used to address a number of outstanding issues in historical linguistics, including the role of children in language change, the invisible hand, the use of phylogeny reconstruction algorithms in genetic historical linguistics, the significance of convention and intentional behavior in language change, types of grammatical change, the integration of internal and external factors, the integration of sociohistorical linguistics and 'traditional' historical linguistics, and finally the integration of synchronic and diachronic linguistics.


Evolutionary models and functional-typological theories of language change

This chapter describes an evolutionary framework for analyzing language change that integrates functional-typological and variationist sociolinguistic approaches to historical linguistics. The model is evolutionary in that it is a theory of how Hull's generalized analysis of selection is to be applied to the processes of language change in contemporary human languages, such as the history of English. As such, the evolutionary framework is not a theory of how the (ultimately biological) ability for human language evolved, though it has important implications for such a theory. Nor is it a theory of the relationship between human linguistic prehistory and human biological prehistory, though it implies certain ways to apply biological methods to linguistic problems. Instead, it is a theory of language change that takes as its starting point variation across individual speech events, across speech communities in a society, and across languages. I focus on functional-typological approaches to language and language change and how they are integrated in an evolutionary framework.


Utterance selection model of language change

[G. J. Baxter, R. A. Blythe, W. Croft and A. J. McKane]

We present a mathematical formulation of a theory of language change. The theory is evolutionary in nature and has close analogies with theories of population genetics. The mathematical structure we construct similarly has correspondences with the Fischer-Wright model of population genetics, but there are significant differences. The continuous time formulation of the model is expressed in terms of a Fokker-Planck equation. This equation is exactly soluble in the case of a single speaker and can be investigated analytically in the case of multiple speakers who communicate equally with all other speakers and give their utterances equal weight. Whilst the stationary properties of this system have much in common with the single-speaker case, time-dependent properties are richer. In the particular case where linguistic forms can become extinct, we find that the presence of many speakers causes a two-stage relaxation, the first being a common marginal distribution that persists for a long time as a consequence of ultimate extinction being due to rare fluctuations.


Genetic linguistics: essays in theory and method by Joseph H. Greenberg

Fifty years ago, Joseph Greenberg put forward the now widely-accepted classification of African languages. This book charts the progress of his work on language classification in Oceania, the Americas, and Eurasia, in which he proposed the language families Indo-Pacific, Amerind and Eurasiatic. It shows how he established and deployed three fundamental principles: that the most reliable evidence for genetic classification is the pairing of sound and meaning; that nonlinguistic evidence such as skin colour or cultural traits, should be excluded from the analysis; and that the vocabulary and inflections of a very large number of languages should be simultaneously compared. The volume includes Joseph Greenberg's substantive contributions to the debate his work provoked and concludes with his writings on the links between genetic linguistics and human history.

William Croft's introduction focuses on the substance and the development of Professor Greenberg's thought and research within the context of the discussion they stimulated. He also includes a bibliography of scholarly reactins to and developments of Joseph Greenberg's work and a comprehensive bibliography of his publications in books and journals.


Cognitive linguistics

Cognitive linguistics argues that language is governed by general cognitive principles, rather than by a special-purpose language module. This introductory textbook surveys the field of cognitive linguistics as a distinct area of study, presenting its theoretical foundations and the arguments supporting it. Clearly organized and accessibly written, it provides a useful introduction to the relationship between language and cognitive processing in the human brain. It covers the main topics likely to be encountered in a course or seminar, and provides a synthesis of study and research in this fast-growing field of linguistics. The authors begin by explaining the conceptual structures and cognitive processes governing linguistic representation and behavior, as well as syntactic representation and analysis, focusing on the closely related frameworks of cognitive grammar and construction grammar. This much-needed introduction will be welcomed by students in linguistics and cognitive science.


Logical and typological arguments for Radical Construction Grammar

Radical Construction Grammar is a model of construction grammar. I will take as a starting point the hypotheses of "vanilla [basic] construction grammar" and briefly outline the differences between it and RCG. Vanilla construction grammar makes the following hypotheses about the nature of syntactic representation: (i) a uniform representation of grammatical structures - constructions - as symbolic units of varying degrees of schematicity and complexity; (ii) organization of constructions into taxonomic networks (a third hypothesis shared by some but not all models is a usage-based approach to grammatical organization). RCG proposes three further hypotheses about grammatical representation: (a) constructions are the basic units of representation; grammatical categories are defined in terms of the constructions in which they occur and in terms of semantic maps on conceptual space; (b) syntactic relations between elements of a construction are unnecessary given the presence of symbolic relations between the elements and the components of the construction's semantic structure; (c) syntactic constructions do not form discrete language-independent structural types, but vary across languages along dimensions of syntactic space. For each hypothesis of RCG, logical arguments and (a tiny sample of) typological arguments in favor will be presented.


Typology and universals, second edition

Comparison of the grammars of human languages reveals systematic patterns of variation. Typology and universals research uncovers those patterns, to formulate universal constraints on language and seek their explanation. A comprehensive introduction to the method and theory used in typology-universals research is presented. The theoretical issues raised range from the most fundamental - on what basis can the grammars of diverse languages be compared? - to the most abstract - what is the role of functional and historical explanations of language universals? Language universals in phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics are extensively illustrated.

The second edition has been thoroughly revised and rewritten, to bring in typological research in the past decade, including new methodologies such as the semantic map model and questions of syntactic argumentation; discussion of current debates over deeper explanations for specific classes of universals, and comparison of the typological and generative approaches to language.


Lexical rules vs. constructions: a false dichotomy

Verbs appear to change their meaning when put into particular constructions. For example, bake means 'bake x and give x to someone' in the ditransitive construction. Two alternative analyses have been proposed: to derive the meaning of bake in the ditransitive construction by a lexical rule, or to have the meaning of bake in the ditransitive construction be predictable from the semantics of the construction. An analysis of the behavior of different verb classes in the ditransitive construction indicates that both analyses are partly right. The ability to enter the ditransitive construction is verb-class-specific, or even verb-specific, but the meaning of the verb (class) found in the ditransitive is peculiar to the ditransitive construction and clearly involves a family resemblance to the meaning of other verb classes found in the construction. I argue that the simplest way to capture these facts is to represent verb-class-specific constructions and verb-specific constructions in the grammar of English.


The Darwinization of linguistics

Linguistics and evolutionary biology have substantially diverged until recently. The chief reason for this divergence was the dominance of essentialist thinking in linguistics during the twentieth century. Croft (2000) describes a thoroughgoing application of Hull's (1988) generalized theory of selection to language change. In this model, tokens of linguistic structure in utterances ('linguemes') are replicators and speakers are interactors. Current debates in the philosophy of evolutionary biology (e.g. Sterelny & Griffiths 1999) are then applied to language change. Hull's generalized theory is post-synthesis: it recognizes a distinction between replicator and interactor and is independent of levels of biological organization. Biological issues such as mechanisms of inheritance (e.g. Lamarckism) and of selection (e.g. intentional behavior) are simply irrelevant to the generalized theory of selection outside biology. However, there are many striking parallels between biological evolution and language change that are likely to be consequences of the generalized theory of selection, including flexibility of adaptation to the environment, emergent structure, evolutionary conservatism, vestigial traits, exaptation, and the absence of "progress". The evolutionary theory of language change is not evolutionary psychology, but it is mimetics; this approach is defended against Sterelny & Griffith's criticisms.


Radical Construction Grammar: syntactic theory in typological perspective

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.


Argument linking and the commercial transaction frame in English, Russian and Japanese

[W. Croft, C. Taoka & E. J. Wood]

We present an analysis of the argment linking of the commercial transaction frame in English, Russian and Japanese. The commercial transaction frame is semantically quite complex, in that there are two transfers in opposite directions (money goes from buyer to seller and goods go from seller to buyer). Also, the three languages examined have verbs linking either buyer or seller to subject position, and either money or goods to object position; the remaining two participant roles are linked to obliques. We use Croft's analysis of causal structure in argument linking to model the variation and constraints on linking. The model uses an underlying uniform representation of the commericail transaction frame, built in turn on the transfer of possession frame, and allows for different construals of the event in different languages. The choice of oblique cases or adpositions for the oblique participant roles are motivated by the use of the same case/adposiiton in other semantic frames. English and Russian construe the commerical transaction frame in essentially the same way. Japanese construes one aspect of the frame differently, leading to different argument linking patterns in that language.


Functional approaches to grammar

The term functional or functionalist has been applied to any approach to grammar that puts the primary emphasis on explanation in terms other than the formal structure of a language. Three types of functional explanations are generally offered. Processing explanations attribute aspects of grammatical structure to limitations on the human ability to produce or comprehend the structure.Cognitive explanations attribute aspects of the analysis of the grammatical phenomenon its conventional meaning. Discourse explanations make reference to the structuring of information for the purpose of communication. There are four widely practiced functional approaches. The autonomist functionalist approach accepts a formal analysis of grammatical structure, but proposes that many constraits on the operation of grammatical rules are explained by semantic factors and/or information structure in discourse. Mixed formal-functional analyses offer functional accounts of some aspect of grammatical structure, and formal accounts for other aspects. Typological functionalists argue that cross-linguistically valid universal constraints on grammatical structure have their source in cognitive and/or discourse factors, and purely structural generalizations are language-particular. Cognitive linguistics argues that the basic structural elements of grammar are not purely formal categories but represent a conceptualization of experience encoded in language.


Explaining language change: an evolutionary approach

Ever since the origins of both linguistics and evolutionary biology in the 19th century, scholars have noted the similarity between biological evolution and language change. Yet until recently neither linguists nor biologists have developed a model of evolution general enough to apply across the two fields. Even in linguistics, the field is split between the historical linguists who study change in language structure, and the sociolinguists who study social variation in the speech community.

Explaining language change represents the first thoroughly worked out framework for language evolution, building on the pioneering ideas of Richard Dawkins and David Hull in biology and philosophy of science. Its central thesis is that the locus of language change is the utterance in social intercourse. Linguistic innovations emerge from the remarkable complexity of communication in social interaction. Once innovations occur, they are propagated through the equally complex social structures of the speech communities we participate in. Explaining language change provides a framework for assessing current theories of language change, and advances new ideas about grammatical reanalysis, conventional and nonconventional use of language, the structure of speech communitites, language mixing, and the notion of "progress" in language change. Explaining language change reintegrates sociolinguistics and historical linguistics, weaving together research on grammatical change, pragmatics, social variation, language contact and genetic linguistics.


Parts of speech as language universals and as language-particular categories

The major parts of speech (noun, verb, adjective) are not categories of particular languages, but are language universals. Linguists have used distribution of words in constructions to justify parts of speech membership. But no sound theoretical basis has been provided to justify choice of tests for membership, leading to disagreement and confusion. In fact, the variation in the occurrence of constructions and in the distribution patterns of words across languages and within languages demonstrates that lexical classes are language-specific and construction-specific. A radical construction grammar model is proposed to represent this state of affairs. The universals of parts of speech are manifested in conceptual space, with principles such as typological markedness defining prototypes in the formal expression of conceptual categories found in conceptual space.


Construal operations in linguistics and artificial intelligence

[W. Croft & E. J. Wood]

This essay deals with one of the fundamental aspects of the semantics of cognitive linguistics, namely the the nature of construal operations, and this entailis reference to the conceptualization of the described situation in the mind of the language user. In expounding the conceptualist approach to semantics, the essay highlights its differences with respect to formal semantics and analyzes particular forms of imagery (scanning, scalar adjustment, profile-base, attention). In doing so, it also elaborates a number of general points concerning the two different types of appraoch to semantics. This essay also conducts a critique of the use by artificial intelligence of certain phenomenological concepts.


Domains and image-schemas

[Timothy C. Clausner and William Croft]

Despite differing theoretical views within cognitive semantics there appears to be a consensus on certain fundamental theoretical constructs: (i) The basic semantic unit is a mental concept; (ii) concepts cannot be understood independent of the domain in which they are embedded; (iii) conceptual structures represent a construal of experience, that is, an active mental operation; and (iv) concept categories involve prototypes and are organized by (at least) taxonomic relations. Although 'concepts', 'domains', 'construal' and 'category structure' go by different names, the basic constructs are essentially the same across researchers in cognitive linguistics. We examine a fifth theoretical construct, 'image schemas' (recurring basic conceptual structures), and argue that image schemas are a subtype of domain. We begin with the theory of domains proposed by Langacker, which is similar to Fillmore's theory of frame semantics. Langacker distinguishes two types of domains, locational and configurational; we argue that it is concepts in domains that are locational or configurational, not the domains themselves. We then analyze image schemas and show how they function like domains, in which are found both locational and configurational concepts.


Some contributions of typology to cognitive linguistics (and vice versa)

Ever since the pioneering work of Berlin & Kay 1969 and Talmy 1972, there has been a fruitful interaction between cross-linguistic research and cognitively oriented linguistic research. Still, there are some significant methodological differences between the two. Also, as in any healthy scientific paradigm, there are some important disputes within cognitive linguistics. In this talk, I will suggest that the typological approach to grammar can address some of the issues being debated in cognitive linguistics, in particular fundamental issues of categorization and the relationship between form and meaning.

Generative grammatical theories (including their nontransformational offshoots and some formal-functional hybrids) have assumed that there are universal categories such as 'noun', verb', 'subject' and 'object'. At least some cognitive linguists have concurred that these universal categories exist, but instead have offered conceptual semantic schemas to characterized them. Cross-linguistic research has uncovered a greater degree of variation than expected with respect to parts of speech and the encoding of participant roles (and much else besides) Typologists have formulated cross-linguistic universals governing this variation but have not pursued the consequences of this for the mental representation of the knowledge of individual languages by speakers.

The conclusion that must be drawn from typological research is that there are no universal grammatical primitives, in the sense of an inventory of universal categories, some or all of which are found in the grammars of particular languages. Instead, the universals that we use the names 'noun', 'verb', 'subject' and 'object' for are patterns in the topography of conceptual space (an approach that represents a significant contribution from cognitive linguistics to typology, incidentally). These patterns typically occur as radial categories with some sort of prototype structure. This conclusion suggests that cognitive linguists should not expect to find universal schematic meanings for categories such as 'noun', 'subject', etc., but rather a prototype-extension pattern for these categories. This does not mean that there is no semantic conceptualization or construal associated with universals of grammatical categories (though see below). It does imply that the construal is the result of the prototype-extension structure rather than following from a universal category schema (category boundary).

The role of construal in the form-function relation gives rise also to a related apparent conflict between functional-typological linguistics and cognitive linguistics. A central principle of functional-typological linguistics is iconicity: that the structure of language reflects the structure of experience. (It should be added that iconicity interacts with other functional principles such as economy.) Typologists see iconicity as an organizing principle for grammatical structure, which means that the semantic structure partially determines grammatical form.

In cognitive linguistics, a central principle is that allegedly meaningless grammatical categories and constructions do have meaning: they represent a construal or conceptualization of experience (which can range from conventional imagery to a more active process), which changes with the use of different constructions, including different constructions across languages. In other words, construction form specifies a construal of experience by the speaker - the opposite assumption of causal directionality from iconicity.

There is truth to both points of view. Grammatical constructions can impose a conceptualization on experience; but examples of grammaticalization demonstrate that constructions themselves change their meaning, which should be interpreted as certain prototypical conceptual structures asserting themselves over the conceptualization imposed by the source construction.


What (some) functionalists can learn from (some) formalists

Not all formalists are alike; nor are formalist theories so deeply interconnected that functionalists must reject everything done by all formalists, or be required to accept all of formalist theory by accepting some part of it. Features of the formalist research tradition are identified that could be adopted (or could converge with) the functionalist research tradition. Certain criticisms by formalists of conclusions drawn from functional analyses should be accepted by functionalists, and functionalists must address representational issues more closely. Finally, both formalists and functionalists must recognize the limits to synchronic analysis and the need to examine cross-linguistic evidence before offering explanations.


Linguistic evidence and mental representations

Cognitive linguists (and other linguists, notably generative linguists) argue for certain mental representations of grammatical and lexical knoewledge based on introspective linguistic data. It is argued here that introspective linguistic data can only restrict the range of possible mental representations a priori. That is, one cannot determinately posit a particular model of mental representation without evidence from actual usage or psycholinguistic experiments. Four points on a probable continuum of mental representations are described, from the most specific representation to the most general: independent entries (or homonymy), polysemy, (grammatical) derivational rules and pragmatic rules (or monosemy). The introspecitve evidence that can exclude one or more of these models is described, and other intermediate models are discussed. Essentially, grammatical and semantic idiosyncrasies are evidence for excluding the more general models; but grammatical and semantic generality is not a priori evidence for exluding the more speciifc models. The reason for the probable continuum of models of mental representation is that dynamically, metnal representations of linguistic knowledge change over time, for a single speaker and for a specch community.


Why is a pomegranate an apple? The role of shape, taxonomic relatedness, and prior lexical knowledge in children's overextensions

[S. Gelman, W. Croft, P. Fu, T. C. Clausner & G. Gottfried]

Children's overextensions (e.g. referring to a pomegranate as apple) raise intriguing questions regarding early word meanings. Specifically, how do object shape, taxonomic relatedness, and prior lexical knowledge influence children's overextensions? The present study sheds new light on this issue by presenting items that disentangle the three factors of shape, taxonomic category, and prior lexical knowledge, and by using a novel comprehension task (the screened-alternative task) in which children can indicate negative exemplars (e.g. which items are not apples). 49 subjects in three age groups participated (Ms = 2;0, 2;6 and 4;5). Findings indicate: (1) Error patterns differed by task. In production, errors were overwhelmingly due to selecting items that matched the target word in both shape and taxonomic relatedness. In comprehension, more errors were based on either shape alone or taxonomic relatedness alone, and the nature and frequency of the overextensions interacted with prior lexical knkowledge. (2) Error patterns also differed markedly based on the word being tested (apple vs. dog), in both comprehension and production. (3) As predicted, errors were more frequent in production than comprehension, though only for children in the two younger age groups. Altogether, the study indicates that overextensions are not simply production erros, and that both taxonomic relatedness and object shape play a powerful role in early naming errors.


Event structure in argument linking

A considerable number of theories of argument linking from a wide range of theoretical perspectives have been proposed in recent years Although there are significant differences between these approaches, it would not be unfair to say that all of them have all or almost all of the following salient theoretical constructs, arranged here in "layers":

Event structure. Some sort of decompositional representation of the causal/aspectual structure of events is taken as the semantic foundation for argument linking.

Thematic roles and a thematic role hierarchy. There is a consensus that thematic roles are not theoretical primitives but are derived from event structure. However, once thematic roles are defined in terms of event structure, they are then usually arranged in a thematic role hierarchy which provides a ranking of participant roles for the purposes of argument linking.

Syntactic arguments or "super-roles". It appears to be a near-consensus that the thematic role hierarchy is insufficient for determining argument linking, and another layer of representation is necessary. Here the theories fall in two camps. One camp proposes a syntactic level of argument structure; another argues that in fact this layer is semantic.

Linking rules. Finally, there are rules specifying how participants in participant roles are linked to the appropriate casemarked NPs using the concepts in the preceding three layers.

In this paper, I outline an alternative view, earlier versions of which can be found in Croft 1991 and various papers, and which will be described in detail in a forthcoming book (Verbs: aspect and argument structure). The positing of thematic role hierarchies, syntactic arguments, and/or super-roles still requires certain linkings to be idiosyncratically stipulated. The fundamental problem with the theories referred to above is that once thematic roles are derived from the semantic structure of events, the rest of event structure semantics is so to speak thrown away. Yet two other aspects of event structure are crucial for argument linking: force-dynamic relations and the verbal profile. In fact we can do without the thematic role hierarchy and syntactic arguments/super-roles if we employ these two elements of event structure, and end up with a linking theory that is simpler than the alternatives - making reference to event semantics only and using a small number of universal linking rules - and comparable in its range of predictions.

The resulting model, including the relevant features of event structure, can be compared to the aforementioned theories in the following way:

Event structure. A rich event semantic structure is assumed, from which thematic roles (to the extent that they are useful in linking, which is in fact not much) can be defined.

Force-dynamic relations among participants. Instead of a thematic role hierarchy, a ranking of participants in terms of their force-dynamic relations to each other is argued to be critical for linking, in fact more important than type of thematic role in the usual sense. One participant outranks another if it is antecedent to the other in the causal chain (in terms of transmission of force). Establishing the causal chain involves a conceptualization (or construal) of the event on the part of the speaker, particularly for noncausal relations between participants; these appear to follow universal cognitive constraints. (Hence force-dynamic structure is a complex derivation from "raw" event structure.) Alternative force-dynamic conceptualizations of an event are also possible, giving rise to alternative linking patterns for certain semantic classes of events.

Verbal profile. Different verbs may be defined from the same force-dynamic conceptual semantic structure of an event, depending on what segment(s) of the causal (force-dynamic) chain is actually denoted by the verb. I use the term profile to describe the denoted segment of the causal chain, following Langacker's Cognitive Grammar. The specification of the verb profile largely does the work of syntactic relations/super-roles in the other theories.

Linking rules. If we use the force-dynamic structure of events, and recognize the verb profile as part of the semantic representation of a verb in a particular language, then the following four universal linking rules can be established (X > Y = 'X antecedes Y in the force-dynamic chain'):

1. The verbal profile is delimited by Subject and Object (if any)

2. Subject > Object

3. Antecedent Oblique > Object > Subsequent Oblique

4. Subject > Incorporated Noun > Object (if any)

Linking Rule 1 makes clear the essential role of the verb profile in argument linking. Linking Rules 2-4 exploit the force-dynamic relationship among participants in an event. Linking Rule 3 implies that oblique cases can be divided into two types for the purposes of linking (see Croft 1991). Linking Rule 4 is necessary to account for patterns of noun incorporation as the latter is generally defined in the cross-linguistic literature (see Croft 1991).


The productivity and schematicity of metaphor

[Timothy C. Clausner and William Croft]

The theory of metaphor proposed by Lakoff & Johnson (1980) and Lakoff (1993) involves a mapping of conceptual structure from one semantic domain to another. We investigate properties of these conceptual domain mappings by comparing them to morphological derivational relations. Schematicity and productivity are properties that Bybee (1985) and Langacker (1987) propose for characterizing morphological derivational relations, which we apply to our analysis of metaphor.

Metaphors are argued to vary in their degree of semantic schematicity: domain relations function as generalizations over specific metaphorical expressions. We also demonstrate three points on a continuum of productivity: conventional metaphors are highly productive, metaphorically motivated transparent idioms are semi-productive, and opaque idioms are unproductive. Each point is compared with an example of morphological productivity having a corresponding conceptual organization. The results demonstrate that semantic productivity can be characterized in the same way as morphological productivity, suggesting that form and meaning are organized by the same principles.


Linguistic selection: an utterance-based evolutionary theory of language

Hull (1988) uses recent developments in the theory of biological evolution, in particular rigorous application of the population theory of species, a consistently phylogenetic approach to evolutionary taxonomy and a proposed resolution of the dispute over which levels natural selection operates, to propose a general analysis of selection processes which he then applies to conceptual change in science. Hull's model of selection is applied to language change. It is argued that the the utterance plays the central role in linguistic selection, and causal mechanisms by which linguistic selection - language change - occurs are proposed. The final sections consider the possibility that selection occurs also at higher levels of linguistic organization, and suggest how language contact may be accounted for in terms of phylogenetic reticulation.


What's a head?

Zwicky (1985) and Hudson (1987) present a wide range of morphosyntactic and semantic criteria for defining the notion of a 'head' in grammatical theory, which represent the standard criteria for headhood, and apply them to a set of six English constructions. Zwicky argues that the criteria yield different results, but Hudson argues that most of them converge on a particular constituent. I widen the empirical base of the analysis to additional constructions and languages, and present a cognitive semantic analysis of headhood.

Most of the syntactic criteria discussed by Zwicky and Hudson pertain to functions other than headhood. Concord and agreement phenomena always involve agreement with a noun phrase (C. Lehmann 1982). Distributional equality and obligatoriness depend critically on the preferences of the language with respect to anaphora (particularly zero anaphora), ellipsis and "headless" constructions, which also seem to be independent of headhood. I analyze the phenomena of subcategorization and government in a construction grammar framework (Fillmore 1988, Langacker 1987). In this framework, subcategorization frames and their "governed" morphosyntactic form are constructions which are listed in the lexicon in the same way as single lexical items. Constructions have their own semantic function and are found in a many-to-many relation with their lexical "fillers". Headhood is at best indirectly related to these phenomena.

This leaves the fundamental semantic intuition voiced by Zwicky and reinforced by Hudson, that "in a combination X+Y, X is the 'semantic head' if, speaking very crudely, X+Y describes a kind of the thing described by X." I will make this notion less crude by employing definitions of the major syntactic categories based on the propositional acts of reference, predication and modification (Croft 1991) to define the phrases they head. However I will argue, contra Hudson, that there is a case for headhood for both the "content word" (e.g. N in NP, V in a clause) and the relevant "functional category" (e.g. Det in NP, AUX/INFL in a clause). This is because reference and predication are not conceptual primitives, and can be pragmatically decomposed, following suggestions by Langacker (1991). This accounts in a general way for the variation in the morphosyntactic locus for grammatical categories across languages.

However, it does not provide a means to decide between the functional category and the content word as the head of the expression. If we shift to a diachronic perspective, evidence from grammaticalization and syntactic reanalysis reveals an asymmetry in the behavior of the two head-like elements: the functional category gets grammaticalized while the content word does not, and the functional category can even be affixed to the content word. I argue that the content word, that is, the 'primary information bearing unit' (PIBU) is thus best considered as the head of a syntactic constituent.


'Markedness' and 'universals': from the Prague school to typology

The concept of markedness has played a significant role in certain linguistic theories, most importantly the Prague School and the Greenbergian school of typology. Greenberg explicitly acknowledges a debt to Trubetzkoy and Jakobson of the Prague School for the formulation of the theory of markedness. However, the concept of markedness underwent a dramatic change in Greenberg's hands that has no obvious antecedent in Prague School theory. Specifically, the Prague School used markedness as a asymmetry in the structural organization of the grammars of particular languages, but Greenberg redefined markedness as a universal asymmetry in the properties of functionally-defined grammatical categories.

The Prague school notion of markedness is a binary opposition between two values of a grammatical parameter, such as masculine-feminine. Trubetzkoy calls it a 'privative' opposition, and clearly defines it as a system-internal and hence language-specific phenomenon. Moreover, in examples from Principles of Phonology, Trubetzkoy suggests that one phonetic value could be marked in one context and unmarked in another. This of course fits with structuralist principles. Jakobson follows Trubetzkoy exactly in this respect; in fact, he argues that the same value can be simultaneously marked and unmarked in a single grammatical system. Unlike American structuralists, however, both Trubetzkoy and Jakobson discussed phonological typology and universals. But neither linguist tried to connect markedness of particular phonetic values with universals, because the former are system-internal.

Greenberg, in his monograph on language universals (1966), discusses the criteria used by Trubetzkoy and Jakobson for markedness, but then proceeds to link them to universals, without commenting on the inconsistency with structuralist principles. As a consequence, changes to the concept of markedness in typology change it almost beyond recognition as an outgrowth of Prague School markedness. Markedness becomes the property of a pattern of cross-linguistic variation, not a system-internal trait that applies to forms in particular languages. Greenberg dispenses almost immediately with binariness, allowing for grammatical hierarchies, as well as other more complex interactions. Finally, the criteria used by the Prague School and the criteria central to typological markedness demonstrates that the concept undergoes a major empirical change also. For the Prague School, neutralization is the basic criterion, though "zero sign" is a primary indicator. For Greenberg, textual frequency is the causal origin of (morphosyntactic) markedness, and the cluster of other properties that dovetail with textual frequency does not in general include neutralization (though it does include zero sign). In sum, the conceptual change in the concept of markedness is radical, reflecting the radical differences between structuralist and typological theory.


Autonomy and functionalist linguistics

Functional analyses of grammatical phenomena, and the functionalist approaches that advocate them, are appealing to those who believe that an integrated view of language structure and language function is desirable. But functional analyses have been held to founder on basic grammatical facts that are taken to support the autonomy of grammar. The concept of autonomy is a complex one, and at least two different notions are found in current linguistic theory: arbitrariness and self-containedness. What these notions of autonomy is claimed to apply to varies as well: either to the syntactic component of the grammar, or (more recently) to the grammar itself, with respect to change, use, and acquisition. The arbitrariness of syntax must be accepted; and many functional analyses are compatible with self-containedness. However, mixed formal/functional analyses provide an argument against the self-containedness of syntax, and in fact even many formal theories of syntax accept non-self-containedness. The arbitrariness of grammatical knowledge must also be accepted; and many functional analyses of the dynamic process affecting grammar are compatible with self-containedness. An argument against the self-containedness of grammar comes not from these functional analyses but from sociolinguistics.


Intonation units and grammatical structure

We examine a corpus of English oral narratives in order to explore the relation between intonation units (IUs) and grammatical units (GUs). IUs are almost always grammatical units (GUs) - the Full GU Condition - but the mapping is not one-to-one. We examine what causes a GU to be broken across IUs, and identify three major constraints: parallelism, syntactic complexity in general, and distance. The converse of these principles, closeness and simplicity, determine the assignment of two GUs to a single IU. We examine the consequences of our analysis for grammaticalization theory, which includes the evolution of syntactic closeness, and for construction grammar and related processing models, which relates syntactic simplicity inversely to token frequency. We propose the IU Storage Hypothesis to link together IUs, grammatical simplicity and high token frequency.


Semantic universals in classifier systems

Kiyomi (1992) argues that neither animacy nor shape can be established as the primary semantic distinction in noun classification systems. However, if one distinguishes different types of classification systems according to the grammatical and ultimately semantic-pragmatic function - noun classes, numeral classifiers, possessive classifiers, and classifiers of spatial predication - then subtle but regular cross-linguistic generalizations can be made. There is a different hierarchy of semantic distinctions associated with each type of classifier. A number of apparently anomalous cases can be explained in terms of diachronic processes of grammaticalization, by which semantic distinctions found with one type of classifier are occasionally transferred to a construction characterized by another type of classifier. The distinctions found with each classifier can be accounted for by the function of the construction in which they are found.


Voice: beyond control and affectedness

This paper will discuss issues in the representation of grammatical voice based on a cognitive semantic analysis of verb meaning. A central part of this analysis is the hypothesis that an event encoded by a single verb form (as opposed to several verb forms chained together in some fashion; cf. Haiman and Thompson 1989) is conceived of as a self-contained event by the speaker (encoder). I will argue that other semantic properties that are associated with verbal voice and voice-like forms, in particular transitivity (Hopper and Thompson 1980; Givón 1981), and control (agentivity) and affectedness (Barber 1975; DeLancey 1984; Klaiman 1988) contribute to the conceptualization of an event as self-contained.


Sentence typology and the taxonomy of speech acts

Various classifications of speech acts have been proposed in the philosophical literature, but no consensus has been arrived at. It is proposed here that cross-linguistic structural properties of utterances be used as evidence for an empirically justified classification of speech acts. I argue that structural properties of the sentence type as a whole should be used to define linguistic speech act categories, such as word order and/or relative position of the major constituents (e.g. word order inversion of English questions, and second-position modal/evidential markers), presence or absence of major constituents (e.g. the missing subject of the English imperative), and alterations of the semantic head of the sentence (i.e. the main verb and its inflections).

If we follow these structural criteria, then we find a pattern of three continua of sentence types, expressing knowledge, action and emotion, all rooted in the declarative type. The knowledge continuum extends from declarative to interrogative via epistemic/evidential modality and biased questions. The action continuum extends from declarative to imperative via deontic modals, optatives and hortatives. The emotion continuum extends from declarative to exclamative via emphatic and evaluative sentences. The continua represent degree of expected response from the addressee. Two further primary conceptual dimensions in the linguistic classification of speech acts are polarity (positive/negative) and politeness.


The role of domains in the interpretation of metaphors and metonymies

Metaphor and metonymy do not occur in isolation; they are triggered in utterances in particular linguistic (and extralinguistic) contexts. They pose an interesting problem from the point of view of semantic composition in that the metaphorical or metonymic interpretation of the parts (the individual words) appears to be determined by the interpretation of the whole construction in which they are found. Much of this is determined by the domain in which the words are to be interpreted. Domains play a central role in the definition of a metaphor as a mapping of conceptual structure from one domain to another. Domains also play a significant (though not defining) role in most metaphors and some related lexical ambiguities, as the highlighting of particular domains in a domain matrix. The processes of domain mapping and domain highlighting are governed by the requirement that a dependent predication (in the sense of Langacker 1987) and all of the autonomous predications it is dependent on must be interpreted in a single domain; this is 'the conceptual unity of domain.' This is only one of several 'conceptual unities' imposed by a whole construction on its component parts.


Functional-typological theory in its historical and intellectual context

The functional-typological approach, and affiliated approaches, are sometimes portrayed as "radical" departures from recent approaches to linguistic analysis (usually, generative grammar), or even as something very new, usually in contrast to structuralism. While there is undoubtedly much that is new to the functional-typological approach to language, like any other intellectual movement it did not arise out of a vacuum and it owes a good deal to its predecessors. Likewise, its future is dependent on the forces that shape intellectual history. This paper describes some basic features of the functional-typological approach (as currently practiced largely in the United States, and as I perceive them) and situate them in the context of the history of American linguistics and broader intellectual currents as well.


Case marking and the semantics of mental verbs

The class of mental (or "psych") verbs, verbs of perception, cognition and emotion, pose difficulties for theories of argument linking because of variation in the linking of experiencer and stimulus. In some languages, mental predicates link the experiencer to the subject position, while in other languages, or even in different predicates in the same language, the experiencer is linked to a nonsubject position (object or oblique). This paper argues for a resolution of the problem in terms of causal or force-dynamic structure, such that the subject "acts on" the object in dynamic predicates.

Mental verbs can be divided into three causal-aspectual types: causatives such as remind and surprise; activities such as think, watch and mourn; and states such as see, know and like. Causative verbs consistently link experiencer to nonsubject position and stimulus to subject across languages, because they encode how a stimulus brings about a change in mental state in the experiencer. Activity verbs consistently link experiencer to subject position across languages, because they encode the mental activity and attention towards a stimulus. State verbs vary in their linking cross-linguistically because they are force-dynamically neutral.

Mental situation types display anomalous behavior because they are in fact force-dynamically bidirectional: the experiencer directs her/his attention to the stimulus but the stimulus causes a change in mental state of the experiencer. Activity verbs highlight the former direction of causation and causative verbs highlight the latter direction. Stative verbs highlight neither, or both at once. If so, then we predict that in some languages, both experiencer and stimulus will be encoded like subjects, or both like objects, or by either linking, with the alternative linkings construing the state as more experiencer- or stimulus-oriented. All of these predictions are borne out.


Syntactic Categories and Grammatical Relations: The Cognitive Organization of Information

Seeking to develop the first satisfying unviersal definitions of basic grammatical units of the major syntactic categories such as "noun", "verb", and "adjective" and of the principal grammatical relations, "subject", "object" and "oblique", William Croft employs the methods of cross-linguistic or typological analysis and cognitive liguistics.

The typological method has demonstrated that certain grammatical criteria provide universal definitions of "marked" and "unmarked" grammatical categories. Drawing on evidence from a vide variety of languages, Croft shows that the traditional semantic definitions for the major syntactic categories (e.g. nouns denote persons and things) represent the unmarked correlation or "prototype" for the pragmatic functions of reference, predication and modification. Turning to recent work in cognitive linguistics and discourse analysis, Croft argues that the pragmatic functions represent universal ways of conceptualizing experience for the purpose of communicating information in language.

Croft then applies this hypothesis to grammatical relations between the verb and its dependent subject, object and oblique noun phrases, arguing that one cannot account for cross-linguistic patterns of marking using semantic roles such as "agent" or "instrument". He proposes instead an "idealized (prototypical) cognitive model" that human beings use in conceptualizing events based on causal relations among participants in the action, which largely determines the choice of subject, object and oblique forms. This model accounts for cross-linguistic patterns in the use of prepositions, postpositions, case affixes, verbal voice and other derived verb forms.


The evolution of negation

Evidence from the synchronic typology of markers of negation in declarative sentences is presented to demonstrate that negative existential predicates are a significant historical source of negative declarative markers. The argument is an example of the method of the dynamicization of a (synchronic) typology, which allows one to construct hypotheses of universal diachronic processes based on synchronic data from historically unrelated language types, a large but relatively untapped source of evidence for the diachronic or dynamic theory of language. This study also illustrates a number of issues in diachronic typological method and the evolution of related grammatical structures.


A conceptual framework for grammatical categories (or, a taxonomy of propositional acts)

There are a great number of nouns, verbs and adjectives that do not fit the "normal" or prototypical characterization of those syntactic categories as objects, actions and properties respectively. Such words have more in common semantically with minor syntactic categories (so-called function words) and inflectional categories. In this paper, I present a conceptual framework for both prototypical and nonprototypical words and morphemes, based on the analysis in Syntactic Categories and Grammatical Relations.The prototypes for noun, verb and adjective are semantic classes combined with the propositional acts (Searle 1969) of reference, predication and modification. These three propositional acts can be characterized as the major propositional acts; but there are also three minor propositional acts: categorizing situating, and selecting. The nonprototypical words, function words and inflectional morphemes encode the minor propositional acts for objects, actions and possibly also properties (modification is clearly not a primary major propositional act).

Categorizing objects is achieved by animacy/gender classes and categorizing actions by valence (transitivity) and Aktionsart. Entities may be situated in a physical dimension - space for objects, via deixis, place expressions and spatial adpositions, and time for actions, via tense, temporal deixis and temporal expressions. Entities may also be situated in mental space (Fauconnier 1985) - accessibility or identifiability for referring expressions, via definiteness and referentiality (encoded by articles), and in mental space via epistemic, deontic and alethic modality, attitude marking, and speech act types. Selecting the particular objects referred to from the object type is achieved by countability/individuation inflections and constructions. Selecting the particular actions predicated from the action type is achieved by aspectual inflections and constructions. Properties are situated on a metric scale by gradability operators (intensifiers, downtowners) and by numerals. Properties are also selected by measure terms.


Possible verbs and event structure

What is a possible verb? Unlike objects, events do not come easily individuated in human perception and cognition. I argue that there is an idealized cognitive model (ICM; Lakoff 1987) that human beings bring to the conceptualization and individuation of events. The idealized cognitive model for events is: (a) events are segments of the causal network; (b) events involve individuals acting on other individuals (transmission of force); (c) transmission of force is asymmetric (d) simple events are nonbranching causal chains. More specifically, possible verbs are defined in terms of a three-segment CAUSE-CHANGE-STATE chain, such that causatives profile all three segments of the chain, inchoatives the last two segments, and statives the final segment. A comparative study of zero vs. overt coding of causative, inchoative and stative expressions of the same event in 33 semantic classes in English, French, Japanese and Korean, reveals patterns of typologically marked and unmarked expression of events, for which explanations can be offered in terms of commonsense knowledge of the events in the world.


Commonsense metaphysics and lexical semantics

[Jerry Hobbs, William Croft, Todd Davies, Douglas Edwards, and Kenneth Laws]

In the TACITUS project for using commonsense knowledge in the understanding of texts about mechanical devices and their failures, we have been developing various commonsense theories that are needed to mediate between the way we talk about the behavior of such devices and causal models of their operation. Of central importance in this effort is the axiomatization of what might be called "commonsense metaphysics". This includes a number of areas that figure in virtually every domain of discourse, such as granularity, scales, time, space, material, physical objects, shape, causality, functionality, and force. Our effort has been to construct core theories of each of these areas, and then to define, or at least characterize, a large number of lexical items in temrs provided by the core theories. In this paper we discuss our methodological principles and describe the key ideas in the various domains we are investigating.


The representation of adverbs, adjectives and events in logical form

The representations of adjectives and their adverbial counterparts in logical form raises a number of issues in the relation of (morpho)syntax to semantics, as well as more specific problems of lexical and grammatical analysis. This paper addresses those issues which have bearing on the relation of properties to events. It is argued that attributes and context play only an indirect role in the relation between properties and events. The body of the paper addresses the criteria for relating surface forms to logical form representations, and offers a unified analysis of adjectives and their adverbial counterparts in logical form while maintaining a clear distinction between operators and predicates; this requires the postulation of a factive sentential operator and the relaxation of the one-to-one syntax-semantics correspondence hypothesis. Criteria for determining the number of arguments for a predicate are established and are used for the analyses of phenomena such as passive-sensitivity, lexical derivational patterns, and gradability.