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-- KerstinFischer -- 23 Oct 2006

Panel in the Framework of the ICLC Krakow 2007

Organisers: Dylan Glynn & Kerstin Fischer

The point of this theme session is to bring corpus techniques to the study of semantic structure. Over the last two decades, Cognitive Linguistics has seen a slow but sure move towards data-driven methodology. This theme session is designed to promote the development of such methodology in Cognitive Semantic research. Building on the usage-based theme sessions of previous ICLCs, our focus is the quantitative treatment of lexical and constructional semantics.

Although we do not question the importance of elicitation, experimentation, and intuition, this theme session focuses on the use of found data. Corpus data respect the complexity of language and, if treated in sufficiently large quantities, enable generalisations about language structure that other methods cannot. This is true not only for the study of form-meaning pairs but also for understanding the interaction between different types of formal structure, such as lexis and syntax. An important feature of usage-based quantitative methodology is that it facilitates attempts to reveal the interaction between the different parameters of language simultaneously. Such a method allows us to capture the multifactorial effects of register, dialect, and context on language usage, parameters integral to semantic structure. Finally, quantitative methods should be brought to the fore since they offer the best means for result verification.

Early cognitive semantic research, such as Dirven & al. (1982) and Lehrer (1982), pathed the way for the development of quantitative techniques in lexical research. Geeraerts & al. (1994), Schmid (2000), and Fischer (2000) are exemplary of this movement. Their research focuses on both polysemy and parasynonymy in lexical structure. More recently, corpus-driven techniques have been applied to constructional semantics, for example Boas (2003), Gries (2003), and Stefanowitsch (2003). This research has focused on lexical-constructional licensing and syntactic alternation or parasynonymy. The ensemble of such approaches has been brought together in recent anthologies, Gries & Stefanowitsch (2006), Stefanowitsch & Gries (2006), and Newman & Rice (in press).

We assume that the study of lexical semantic structures necessarily includes their collocational behaviour, just as the study of constructional semantics necessarily includes the study of lexical licensing. Moreover, both of these endeavours should be concerned with extra-linguistic factors as they surface in register and dialect and the role of contextual information. This theme session hopes to bring these analytical concerns together through the development of corpus-driven methodology, in particular issues of annotation, corpus representativity, and statistical analysis.


Boas, H. 2003. A Constructional Approach to Resultatives. CSLI: Stanford.

Dirven, R. & al. 1982. The scene of linguistic action and its perspectivization by SPEAK, TALK, SAY and TELL. Benjamins: Amsterdam.

Fischer, K. 2000. From Cognitive Semantics to Lexical Pragmatics: The Functional Polysemy of Discourse Particles. Mouton: Berlin.

Geeraerts, D. & al. 1994. The Structure of Lexical Variation. Naming, meaning, and context. Mouton: Berlin.

Gries, St. Th. 2003. Multifactorial Analysis in Corpus Linguistics. Continuum: London.

Gries, St. Th. & Stefanowitsch, A. (eds). 2006. Corpora in Cognitive Linguistics. Mouton: Berlin.

Lehrer, A. 1982. Wine and Conversation. IUP: Bloomington. Newman, J. & Sally R. (eds). In press. Empirical and Experimental Methods in Cognitive/Functional Research. CSLI: Stanford.

Schmid, H.J. 2000. English Abstract Nouns as Conceptual Shells. From corpus to cognition. Mouton: Berlin.

Stefanowitsch, A. 2003. Constructional semantics as a limit to grammatical alternation. G. Rohdenburg & B. Mondorf (eds), Determinants of Grammatical Variation in English. Mouton: Berlin.

Stefanowitsch, A. & Gries, St. Th. (eds). 2006. Corpus-based Approaches to Metaphor and Metonymy. Mouton: Berlin.

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