Constructionist Approaches

Constructionist Approaches to Language

These presentations emphasize the commonalities among words, idioms, and more abstract syntactic patterns in that all are learned pairings of form and function. This emphasis allows us to draw many parallels between language and other cognitive processes such as categorization, parallels that in turn raise the issue of whether language may emerge from a combination of general cognitive abilities, without requiring a unique language faculty. We ask: How do children generalize beyond what they hear in order to learn their rich and complex knowledge of language? How can we explain certain generalizations that hold across languages?         

This page  links to recommended (optional) readings for the mini course.  Earlier versions of slides are also included (subject to change) below.

Recommended readings:

Lecture 1: What is the constructionist approach to language?  

   Part 1: Constructions have functions slides

   Part 2: Overview   Primary desiderata: psychological validity; descriptive adequacy; typological explanation. slides

Recommended reading: Goldberg. 2013. Constructionist Approaches to Language.   In Thomas Hoffmann and Graeme Trousdale (eds.) Handbook of Construction Grammar. Oxford University Press. [pdf]

Lecture 2: Words 

Recommended reading. Words. Goldberg  to appear, Chapter 1 of Explain me this. DRAFT [pdf] Princeton University Press.

Lecture 3: is there any need for Universal Grammar? [slides1] [slides-re-typology]

Adele Goldberg. 2016. Subtle Implicit Language Facts Emerge from the Functions of Constructions. Frontiers in Psychology [pdf]

Frederick Newmeyer 2016, Form and Function in the Evolution of Grammar. Cognitive Science.

Lecture 4: Explain me partial productivity [slides]

How we learn to avoid saying “don’t giggle me” while we allow ourselves to say “instagram it”.

Recommended reading. Boyd, J. K., & Goldberg, A. E. (2011). Learning what not to say: The role of statistical preemption and categorization in a-adjective production. Language87(1), 55-83.  BoydGoldberg2011;  .   Yang(2015); Reply to Yang [pdf]

Tomasello, M. 2009. The usage-based theory of language acquisition. In E. Bavin. Cambridge handbook of child language. [pdf]

For other relevant readings, see links to other papers on this website.