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Adjectives in Cognitive Linguistic

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Analysis of two utterances in the prism of pragmatics.
    1. Extract from a speech entitled Playing Globocop, by Bill Clinton, 1994.
    2. Extract from an article entitled Shepherds of the Inner City, Newsweek, April 18, 1994.
  3. A less systematic approach of grammatical constructions involving adjectives: towards generalizations.
    1. Caption and typology of the different grammatical construction.
    2. Database (to which we may add the first twenty-nine examples, analysed in our first part).
    3. Analysis of some of those examples: Generalizations.
  4. Conclusion.
  5. Bibliography.

During the seminar, we have buckled down to the arduous task of understanding and using a brand new theoretical field of study as far as the great family of linguistics is concerned. This paper and the database we have come to build out are the concrete results of a work which turned out to be very interesting, for it allowed us to open up to things fundamentally different from the Culiolian approach we have been familiar to so far. Indeed, within the framework of pragmatics, language is not just a logical system: any time one talks, one performs a speech act and implies conversational implicatures, using conversational maxims, in order to follow the cooperative principle, and therefore, the context and the intention of the speaker have to be taken into account. The speaker ?or, to a more general extent, the one who utters or writes a sentence?'s meaning, as we shall see, is often different from the sentence meaning, and therefore, taking language as a mere binary system ?things being categorized as true or false? can be erroneous. We have tried to apply all those principles to the study of grammatical constructions, which are patterns ?ranging from words to complex sentences? that integrate form, intonation and meaning(s) ?both semantic and pragmatic. What is important in this prism is to work within a tripartite framework, involving syntax, semantics and pragmatics. Once we have understood what speech acts, implicatures and grammatical constructions stand for, we can tackle the analysis of various examples of grammatical constructions. This paper will put the emphasis on adjectives in their broadest sense ?that is to say, modifiers and determiners, or any word or group of words that function as an adjective proper. We will try to highlight the different grammatical constructions involving an adjectival form, using the various contexts in which those units were uttered. We will first of all try to analyse two short paragraphs which are replete with adjectival forms, in order to show the importance of the context on such and such grammatical construction involving adjectives. Namely, we will give the form of each construction, its meaning, and try to show how the context influences ?or not? our understanding of the unit. A second part will be dedicated to a less systematic analysis, for we will only take into account the most relevant ?those which can stand for representatives of either a linguistic form or of a pragmatic meaning? grammatical constructions, in order to come up to certain generalizations concerning adjectives.

[...] ( The 73-anti-smoking society that we live in today was, like 74-most trends, 75-born in California 76-very place where the pursuit of youth and health is 77-like a religion. Indeed, 78-Californian smokers are now persecuted with a vehemence that is 79-reminiscent of 80-religious fanaticism, as we shall see. ( ) Offices 81-all around the world started to become 82-smoke-free, but 83-few people, however, imagined what the 84-anti-smoking lobby was preparing for next in California: a 85-total ban in 1998 on cigarettes in 86-any public place. [...]


[...] Note that this construction is included in a larger one, end of one stage where one stage? is a prepositional phrase modifying the head noun long and difficult journey? is made of an article, two coordinated adjectives ?which are attributive- and a head noun. This construction is part of another bigger one, stage of a long a difficult journey?, and it is a prepositional phrase modifying the head noun The two adjectives are scalar ones, and they partake of the metaphor used here, namely, that of considering the events as an exhausting trip. [...]


[...] Indeed, adjectives such as ?wonderful?, or ?extraordinary?, all bear the idea of enormity ?each in a different sense- and subjectivity, along with a certain relativity ?something can be or ?extraordinary? only in comparison with another item. Here, the adjective places its head noun among the best programs ?according to the journalist. ?Extraordinary? is made up of a prefix extra-, with its superlative meaning, and of an adjective ?ordinary, itself having a suffix which is one which does not affect stress assignment. [...]

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