Construction Grammar

Historically, the notion of construction grammar developed out of the ideas of "global rules" and "transderivational rules" in generative semantics, together with the generative semantic idea of a grammar as a constraint satisfaction system. George Lakoff's "Syntactic Amalgams" paper in 1974 (Chicago Linguistics Society, 1974) posed a challenge for the idea of transformational derivation.

Construction grammar was developed in the 1980s by linguists such as Charles Fillmore, Paul Kay, and George Lakoff. Construction grammar was developed in order to handle cases that intrinsically went beyond the capacity of generative grammar.

The earliest study was "There-Constructions," which appeared as Case Study 3 in George Lakoff's Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things. It argued that the meaning of the whole was not a function of the meanings of the parts, that odd grammatical properties of Deictic There-constructions followed from the pragmatic meaning of the construction, and that variations on the central construction could be seen as simple extensions using form-meaning pairs of the central construction.

Fillmore et al.'s (1988) paper on the English let alone construction was a second classic. These two papers propelled cognitive linguists into the study of CxG.

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