Word meaning, sentence meaning, and syntactic meaning [chapter]

Laura A. Michaelis
2003 Cognitive Linguistics Research  
The lexicon has long been assumed to be the source of all conceptual content expressed by sentences. Syntactic structures have correspondingly been seen only as providing instructions for the assembly of the concepts expressed by words. Under this view, sentences have meaning, but the syntactic structures which sentences instantiate do not. This paper challenges this view: it uses the phenomenon of implicit type-shifting to demonstrate that constructions have meanings distinct from those of
more » ... s and that, in cases of conflict, construction meaning overrides word meaning; and it argues that such overrides are predictable by-products of the general mechanism of construction-word integration. This mechanism will be described with respect to three different kinds of constructions: argument-structure constructions, which specify linkings of thematic roles to grammatical functions; aspectual constructions, which encode the situation type denoted by the verb or verb phrase; and sentence types, which pair a discourse function with a clausal structure. On the basis of these three short case studies, I will argue that appeal to constructional meaning greatly enhances the descriptive power of a theory of sentence semantics.
doi:10.1515/9783110219074.163 fatcat:nohnu6v5uzbe7fmnvdpcrswt6y