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date: 15 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article presents an overview of clause structure and transitivity from a cognitive and constructional approach, focusing on the correspondences between meaning and form. A fundamental claim of cognitive linguistics is that grammatical structures and categories have an experiential and conceptual basis. The conceptual basis of clause structures is found in the conceptualizations of actions and events. According to Ron Langacker, our conceptions of actions and events combine in a complex archetypal notion defining a “canonical event,” comprising at least two cognitive models: the “billiard-ball model” and the “stage model.” This article focuses more on the symbolic links between meaning and form than on the nature of our conceptualizations of actions and events. It considers the basis of syntactic roles and the interaction between verbs and clausal constructional schemas. It also examines the conceptualization of events and the move from event types toward a more general account in terms of force dynamics, action chains, and salience. Finally, the article looks at the semantic motivations of some more basic or more common clausal constructions and grammatical relations.

Keywords: clause structures, transitivity, meaning, form, cognitive linguistics, actions, events, verbs, salience, grammatical relations

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