Traditionally, a relatively sharp line is drawn between the lexicon and the syntax of a language. This distinction is related to the view that a language can be thought of as a dictionary or repository of idiosyncratic forms plus a set of rules or a syntax that combine words extracted from the lexicon into larger chunks such as phrases and clauses. Such a view has important consequences not only for synchronic but also for diachronic descriptions and theories. Standard accounts of the history of the English language such as, for example, the six-volume Cambridge History of the English Language as well as its “abridged” version (Hogg and Denison 2006) have separate chapters on syntax and vocabulary. The underlying assumption is that the two are regarded (either implicitly or explicitly) as separate linguistic components. However, various strands of cognitive linguistics such as Langacker’s Cognitive Grammar (see e.g. Langacker 2008) and Croft’s Radical Construction Grammar (see Croft 2001) have put forward the claim that no clear-cut boundaries exist between what are traditionally called lexicon, syntax, and morphology but, rather, that they form a continuum. In what follows, I will first review some of the synchronic arguments in favor of this proposal and then provide some diachronic arguments. Next, I will deal in some detail with a couple of phenomena from the history of English which show why it is useful to assume a continuum.

The syntax-lexicon continuum

BROCCIAS, CRISTIANO
2012-01-01

Abstract

Traditionally, a relatively sharp line is drawn between the lexicon and the syntax of a language. This distinction is related to the view that a language can be thought of as a dictionary or repository of idiosyncratic forms plus a set of rules or a syntax that combine words extracted from the lexicon into larger chunks such as phrases and clauses. Such a view has important consequences not only for synchronic but also for diachronic descriptions and theories. Standard accounts of the history of the English language such as, for example, the six-volume Cambridge History of the English Language as well as its “abridged” version (Hogg and Denison 2006) have separate chapters on syntax and vocabulary. The underlying assumption is that the two are regarded (either implicitly or explicitly) as separate linguistic components. However, various strands of cognitive linguistics such as Langacker’s Cognitive Grammar (see e.g. Langacker 2008) and Croft’s Radical Construction Grammar (see Croft 2001) have put forward the claim that no clear-cut boundaries exist between what are traditionally called lexicon, syntax, and morphology but, rather, that they form a continuum. In what follows, I will first review some of the synchronic arguments in favor of this proposal and then provide some diachronic arguments. Next, I will deal in some detail with a couple of phenomena from the history of English which show why it is useful to assume a continuum.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11567/389922
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