Article published in:Grammar, usage and discourse: Functional studies offered to Kristin Davidse
Edited by Lieven Vandelanotte, Wout Van Praet and Lieselotte Brems
[English Text Construction 10:2] 2017
► pp. 233–248
Grounding, semantic functions, and absolute quantifiers
Absolute quantifiers (e.g. many, few, three) have adjectival uses, but when initial they function as grounding elements: like demonstratives, articles, and relative quantifiers (e.g. all, most, every), they indicate the epistemic status of the nominal referent. This ambivalence is due to their being intermediate, having semantic affinities with both categories but being marginal with respect to each. The dual role of absolute quantifiers is readily described in Cognitive Grammar, given its dynamic view of meaning as consisting in semantic functions (interactive tasks to be fulfilled). These functions belong to the symbolic assemblies constituting language structure; they are fundamental, the role of lexicon and grammar being to effect their implementation. More schematic functions –such as grounding –are independent of any particular implementation. In the absence of a dedicated grounding element, absolute quantifiers assume that function through a conventional pattern of implicit functional augmentation (a common type of construction).
Keywords: epistemic control, identification, quantification, reference, universality
Published online: 19 October 2017
Culicover, Peter W. & Ray Jackendoff
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Langacker, Ronald W.
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Praet, Wout Van
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