When cognitive grammar meets functional grammar
Diversified interpretations of shared/similar terms in the two schools
This paper points out that certain frequently used terms in linguistic literature, such as“prominent/salient” and “background/ground”, are in fact interpreted differently or even contrarily in Functional Grammar and Cognitive Grammar. The paper attributes their diversified interpretations to the fundamental differences between these two linguistic schools in terms of paradigm and methodology, i.e. to focus on communicative activities of speech and discourse rules or on cognitive abilities and rules. The paper claims that “prominence” as a concept in cognitive grammar mainly relates to the speaker’s concerns, and can be more specifically reworded as topicality or accessibility since it, while conflicting with the focus-stress pattern, mostly conforms to the syntactic hierarchy of syntactic functions and the accessibility hierarchy of NPs, with the case being that the higher position an element occupies in the syntactic hierarchy the more prominent it is cognitively; “prominence” in Functional Grammar, however, mainly relates to the communicative function and the information status of the relevant elements, which thus can be more specifically reworded as focus or focusing, and it mostly conforms to the focus-stress pattern but conflicts with the syntactic hierarchy, with the case being that the more deeply an element is syntactically embedded the more prominent it is functionally. Some controversial opinions about emphasized elements in certain Chinese constructions might arise from the diversified interpretations of the relevant terms. On this basis, the paper further discusses certain problems existing in the ‘figure-background’ theory in cognitive grammar.
Keywords: Cognitive Grammar, prominence, terminology, Functional Grammar, stress pattern, syntactic hierarchy, background/ground
Published online: 05 September 2014
方 梅 [Fang, M.] (2004) 汉语口语后置关系从句研究 [On post-nominal relative clauses in spoken Chinese]. In 庆祝中国语文创刊50周年学术论文集 [ Selected Papers from the International Symposium Marking the 50th Anniversary of the Publication of Zhongguo Yuwen ] (pp. 70–78). Beijing: The Commercial Press.
宋文辉 [Song, W.] (2012) 汉语动结式的功能与认知研究 [On the function and cognition of chinese verb-resultative structure]. Draft of Program Report.
Evans, V., & Green, M.
Greenberg, Joseph H.
Keenan, E.L., & Comrie, B.
Ungerer, F. & Schmid, H.J.
Zubizarreta, Maria Luisa and Jean-Roger, Vergnaud
(2000) Phrasal stress and syntax. In Progress in Grammar, ed. Marc van Oostendorp and Elena Anagnostopoulou (an electronic book http://www.roquade.nl/meertens/progress-ingrammar/index.html). Publisher: Roquade, Amsterdam/Utrecht/Delft.