How Goldbergʼs Cognitive Construction Grammar differs from Langackerʼs Cognitive Grammar

Cognitive Grammar (CG) views categories at a level of granularity that is below the views espoused in the current edition of Cognitive Construction Grammar (CCxG); instead of using prototypes, CG relies on an quasi-atomistic assemblage model for category formation. CCxG on the other hand could be seen as a more stochastic stab at the problem of category structure, since it is based on prototype effects. To me, these do not seem to be mutually exclusive foci; CG answers a lower level problem than CCxG. CCxG does not need that level of analysis because of the emphasis on generalization in construction use which exist at a higher level of concern.

Also, CG differs from CCxG in that CCxG looks at construal of meaning to be situation based and a matter of choice, CG, on the other hand, views construal as a fixed attribute of form. Consequently, CCxG may have a better view of semantics than CG since CCxG is not rigidly tied to the formalisms required by a reductionist model (even if it does maintain the claim that constructions are form-meaning pairings).

CG in this view, seems to be more focused on an association-based model to account for form-meaning pairings and CCxG seems to rely on construction generalizations to establish the meaning and frequency to confirm the form.

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4 thoughts on “How Goldbergʼs Cognitive Construction Grammar differs from Langackerʼs Cognitive Grammar

  1. enricotorre says:

    If you’re interested in how cognitive approaches to grammar differ from one another, you might have a look at §2.3.1 in my M.A. thesis, where I briefly outline Cognitive Grammar, Goldberg’s Construction Grammar, and Radical Construction Grammar.

  2. ryandewey says:

    Thanks Enrico, I will definitely check it out. I saw that you posted it on the Cognitive Science Network. I’m including a link for other readers so that they can find your thesis too. http://ssrn.com/abstract=1809958
    – Ryan

  3. ryandewey says:

    Also, Enrico, is my brief comparison in this post correct from your perspective? Is there anything you would change about what I wrote?

  4. enricotorre says:

    Well, yeah, I think it is very difficult to express the difference between these two approaches in a few lines. A couple of tips: first, in my opinion, no cognitive model of grammar is “reductionist”; second, I would add some references.

    My general opinion is that virtually all cognitive approaches to grammar should be seen as mutually informative rather than alternative to each other: most of their differences derive from the fact that they generally highlight different facets of language. For instance:
    - Cognitive Grammar explores the semantic basis of grammar in general;
    - Goldberg’s Construction Grammar highlights the importance of argument structure in determing the meaning of a sentence;
    - Radical Construction Grammar primarily deals with the typological diversity in the grammar of the World’s languages;
    - Embodied Construction Grammar aims to provide an explicit representation of the online process of language comprehension and the relation between linguistic units and the embodied conceptual knowledge of the language-user.

    Thank you for posting a link to my M.A. thesis, I really appreciate it!

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