Edited by Brian Nolan and Elke Diedrichsen
[Studies in Language Companion Series 145] 2013
► pp. 231–270
Meaning construction, meaning interpretation and formal expression in the Lexical Constructional Model
This paper discusses how the Lexical Constructional Model (LCM) contributes to our understanding of meaning is constructed, interpreted and expressed. It especially addresses the role of constructional meaning in this complex process, while making critical revisions of other constructionist accounts of language, whether cognitivist or functionalist. It includes the notion of replicability into the definition of construction. According to this notion, a form-meaning pairing can be considered a construction, even if the pairing is not frequent, provided that it can be felt by competent native speakers as being ‘potentially replicable’, i.e. as being naturally meaningful without doing any violence to the nature of the language to which the construction belongs. The paper further argues that constructional structure mediates the syntactic realization of verbal meaning. In this view, meaning is not composed by assembling concepts, as postulated in Cognitive Grammar, but rather by making use of the conceptual scaffolding provided by constructions. Then, the paper relates the architecture of the LCM to a taxonomy of cognitive models and addresses meaning construction from the point of view of the descriptive and explanatory tools of the LCM. These tools include the definition of several central processes: subsumption, amalgamation, and saturation of variables. The role of each process is assessed at the various descriptive levels of the LCM. Finally, the paper relates formal expression to meaning representation in terms of idiomatic and non-idiomatic constructions. In this connection it specifies the requirements for full formal expression and relates such requirements to the format of constructional templates in the LCM.