Chunks, constructions, and context - how speakers express meaning



Zeit/Ort n.V.

Due to the latest COVID-19 regulations, winter term classes shall, if possible, be taught in presence again. The first session, however, will be online. The further procedure will be discussed during the first session.

Students from all types of Lehramtsstudiengänge are just as welcome to participate as BA- and MA-students (also as “guests”).

No prior knowledge of structuralist semantics, cognitive theory, or construction grammar will be assumed.


This seminar addresses issues that are central for the teaching of English as a foreign language and for understanding the nature of language. The idea behind the seminar is to show that it is not just words and “morphemes” that contribute to the meaning of an utterance, but that the speakers of a language have thousands of prefabricated expressions at their disposal, which they use in a more or less flexible way in discourse. Linguists know today that grammar and vocabulary are not completely different things and that constructing a meaningful sentence does not mean that you first “generate” a formal grammatical structure and then insert words in the appropriate places to make it meaningful. The seminar will thus put a certain focus on topics such as the following: - Are some greens greener than others? - Do speakers of different languages perceive colours differently? - Is language less tidy than structuralists thought? - To what extent are the morphemes of structuralist linguistics cognitively plausible? - Strategies speakers of the English language employ to express new concepts. - The gradient between collocation, idiomaticity and word formation. - Sinclair’s and Langacker’s insistence on the importance of the phrase: extended units of meaning and the idiom principle. - In what way do grammatical constructions (argument structure constructions, tense, aspects etc.) express meaning? - Grammaticalization: why going to has come to express ‘future time’ and why it does not make sense to ask whether this is “lexical” or “grammatical. - How children learn to understand and express meaning. - How we know that speakers make use of pre-fabricated multi-word units (chunks) (psycholinguistic and experimental evidence). - Gestures and linguistic ways of expressing meaning.

Zusätzliche Informationen

Erwartete Teilnehmerzahl: 20