Constructions at Work: The Nature of Generalization in Language

Research output: Book/ReportBook

2491 Scopus citations


This book investigates the nature of generalizations in language, drawing parallels between our linguistic knowledge and more general conceptual knowledge. The book combines theoretical, corpus, and experimental methodology to provide a constructionist account of how linguistic generalizations are learned, and how cross-linguistic and language-internal generalizations can be explained. Part I argues that broad generalizations involve the surface forms in language, and that much of our knowledge of language consists of a delicate balance of specific items and generalizations over those items. Part II addresses issues surrounding how and why generalizations are learned and how they are constrained. Part III demonstrates how independently needed pragmatic and cognitive processes can account for language-internal and cross-linguistic generalizations, without appeal to stipulations that are specific to language.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages288
ISBN (Electronic)9780191708428
ISBN (Print)0199268517, 9780199268511
StatePublished - Dec 22 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


  • Corpus methodology
  • Cross-linguistic generalizations
  • Experimental methodology
  • Generalizations
  • Language-internal generalizations
  • Theoretical methodology


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