English Grammar: A Cognitive Approach

This module provides you with the opportunity to develop a solid foundation in the grammar of English, prominently including the ways in which it interfaces with semantics-pragmatics — as discussed, especially, in the cognitive linguistic approach to grammar, i.e. construction grammar. Yet the module is not restricted to this theoretical framework. Instead, we will explore its research questions, analyses and methods in relation to those representing the more traditional, generative (Chomskian) alternative. A basic tenet of the cognitive (and more broadly speaking: functional) approach is that English grammar (and indeed the grammar of any language) is a tool for effective communication. This leads to an analysis of grammatical structures in terms of, and as to some extent motivated by, their meanings. We will see that this perspective is very different from the generative approach, where grammar is studied more or less in isolation from meaning, i.e. as pure structure. Towards the end of the module some recent applications of the theory of cognitive linguistics are discussed.