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Jan Rijkhoff

Functional_Category Shift, with particular attention to Classifying, Qualifying and Localizing Modifiers in the NP

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Published in Book of Abstracts of the 48th Annual meeting of SOCIETAS LINGUISTICA EUROPAEA. Leiden University (the Netherlands), 2-5 Sept 2015.

This talk is concerned with functional categories, where ‘functional’ should be understood in the sense of the Prague School of Linguistics, whose members were seeking to understand what jobs the various components of an actual linguistic expression are doing (cf. Sampson 1980). Compared to formal and semantic categories, functional categories (as defined here) have played a rather marginal role in linguistics. In the tentative typology of functional categories proposed below, linguistic forms and constructions are classified on the basis of various kinds of interpersonal (discourse, communicative) acts.
     Interpersonal acts minimally include SPEECH ACTS (Austin 1962), THETICAL ACTS (FDG: ‘subsidiary discourse acts’; Kaltenböck et al. 2011), PROPOSITIONAL ACTS (predicating, referring, modifying; Searle 1969) and PRAGMATIC ACTS (signaling the information value of a constituent in terms of Theme/Rheme or Topic/Focus distinctions; Prague School). Thus, a member of a FUNCTIONAL CATEGORY is the formal manifestation of an Interpersonal Act: it has an interpersonal function and it is characterized by a distinct set of grammatical properties:
- SPEECH ACT. Form: sentence (or rather: a linguistic unit that is the result of a ‘discourse act’ in FDG);
- THETICAL ACT. Form: thetical expression (‘discourse marker’, ‘Extra-Clausal Constituent’ in Dik’s FG);
- PROPOSITIONAL ACT. Form: predicate - NP - modifier;
- PRAGMATIC ACT. Form: Topic/Focus marked constituent.
     The main goal of this paper is to investigate FUNCTIONAL_CATEGORY SHIFT involving formal counterparts of propositional acts of MODIFICATION (Croft 1990). At least five different SUBACTS OF MODIFICATION (SoMs) — and consequently five Functional Modifier Categories — can be distinguished, here illustrated with NP-internal modifiers (Rijkhoff 2008, 2010, 2014):
- CLASSIFYING SoMs, which further specify what kind of entity is denoted by the head constituent (‘EVOLUTIONARY biology’);
- QUALIFYING SoMs, which specify more or less inherent properties (‘qualities’) of an entity (‘a HEAVY box’);
- QUANTIFYING SoMs, which specify quantitative properties of an entity (e.g. ‘TWO cars’);
- LOCALIZING / ANCHORING SoMs, which specify locative properties of an entity, making it possible for the Addressee to ground/anchor the referent in conversational space (‘THOSE cars’);
- DISCOURSE-REFERENTIAL SoMs, which specify discourse-referential properties of an entity (‘THE/A car’).

In this talk I will focus on the various modifier functions of two constituents; (i) adnominal relational adjectives and (ii) Dutch adnominal prepositional phrases (PPs) with van ‘of’. It will be shown that synchronically each modifier function comes with its own ‘mini-grammar’ and that shifts between functional modifier categories are gradual rather than abrupt in the case of adnominal PPs. It will also be argued that diachronically the development is from a modifier function with wide semantic scope to a modifier function that has narrower scope (i.e. ‘from outer to inner layer’ in a layered representation of NP structure). By contrast, the shift to membership of another functional modifier category tends to be abrupt in the case of relational adjectives (with the possible exception of e.g. ethnic adjectives), which provides support for the idea that the different modifier functions of a relational adjective are not due to a gradual, diachronic change (Heynderickx 2001).

Selected references
   Croft, W. 1990. A conceptual framework for grammatical categories (or: a taxonomy of Propositional Acts). Journal of Semantics 7-3, 245-279.
  Heynderickx, P. 2001. Relationele Adjectieven in het Nederlands. Antwerpen: Lessius University College.
   Horn, N. Thorup, H. McGhee and J. Rijkhoff. 2014. Relationelle adjektiver på dansk. Occasional Papers in Linguistics from Aarhus 1485-621, nr. 1. Available online.
   Kaltenböck, G., B. Heine and T. Kuteva. 2011. On thetical grammar. Studies in Language 35-4, 852–897.
   Rijkhoff, J. 2008. Layers, levels and contexts in FDG. In D. G. Velasco and J. Rijkhoff (eds.), The Noun Phrase in Functional Discourse Grammar, 63-115. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
   Rijkhoff, J. 2009. On the covariation between form and function of adnominal possessive modifiers in Dutch and English. In W.B. McGregor (ed.), The Expression of Possession, 51-106. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
   Rijkhoff, Jan. 2014. Modification as a propositional act. In M. de los Ángeles Gómez González et al. (eds.), Theory and Practice in Functional-Cognitive Space, 129-150. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year2015
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventSocietas Linguistica Europaea: 48th Annual Meeting - Leiden University Centre for Linguistics (LUCL), Leiden, Leiden, Netherlands
Duration: 2 Sep 20155 Sep 2015
Conference number: 48


ConferenceSocietas Linguistica Europaea: 48th Annual Meeting
LocationLeiden University Centre for Linguistics (LUCL), Leiden

Bibliographical note

Abstract for: SLE 2015 - 48th Annual meeting of SOCIETAS LINGUISTICA EUROPAEA. Leiden University (the Netherlands), 2-5 Sept. 2015

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