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Constructions, Usage and Intersubjectivity

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Lílian Ferrari | Federal University of Rio de Janeiro


This theme session reflects current trends in cognitive linguistics and usage-based approaches to language, centering on the relations between grammatical constructions, usage and intersubjectivity. Recent studies have shown the existence of a wide range of constructions marking intersubjectivity, from lower-level constructions, such as negation markers and personal pronouns, to syntactic-level constructions, such as conditionals and complementation constructions (Verhagen 2005; Zlatev et. al. 2015). Beyond textual data, gesture and various multimodal combinations (e.g. comics) have also been studied as constructions which play intersubjective functions in usage events (Sweetser 2007, Steen and Turner, 2013). 

According to usage-based models, structure emerges when chunks of speech are identified by repeated occurrence and get entrenched in the speaker’s mind as units of language (Langacker, 1988, 1999; Kemmer & Barlow 1999; Tomasello 1999, 2003; Bybee 2006, 2010). Drawing on this body of research, this theme section aims at taking a step further and investigating how frequency of use and communicative needs are intertwined in shaping constructions. In this vein, it is claimed that even if frequency can be seen as a shaping factor, it may well not be a determining cause, but the effect of interactional needs, such as intersubjective alignment (Verhagen, 2005). Given that intersubjectivity, defined as mutual management of cognitive states, has been shown to be a basic component of human cognition (Tomasello, 1999), it should be expected that it is also a basic component of grammar. Following this line of reasoning, this theme session will focus on different kinds of constructions, exploring the relations between frequency of use, degree of entrenchment and intersubjectivity.

Accepted Papers:


Negotiating “subjectivities” in interaction: concessive constructions and mental spaces settings

André V. Lopes Coneglian

Cognitive alignment and generic uses of pronouns in interaction

Helen de Andrade

Present tense and epistemic proximity in journalistic headlines

Caroline Soares

Temporal backshifting and intersubjectivity in Brazilian Portuguese conditionals

Paloma Bruna de Almeida

(Inter) subjectivity as a conceptual device within the epistemic complementation clause network

Sandra A. Faria

(Inter)Subjectivity and Epistemic Constructions: a cognitive corpus-based study of Brazilian Portuguese

Luciana Beatriz Ávila

Fictive interaction as grammatical construction: pairing between prosody and meaning in Brazilian Portuguese

Luiz Fernando Matos Rocha

Frequency effects and the impact of Christianity in the emergence of reportative meaning of Latin secundum NP (‘according to’ NP) via extended intersubjetivity

Caterina Guardamagna

Semantic and pragmatic properties of ditransitive construction in Brazilian Portuguese

Angélica Furtado da Cunha

Intersubjectivity and constructionalization of [Locative+Verb] connectors in Portuguese

Mariângela Rios de Oliveira

Information structure and constructional productivity: the case of brazilian portuguese adverbial adjective

Diogo Pinheiro and Victor Virgínio

Two constructions in Brazilian: on XYZ and hedges

Maria Lucia Leitão de Almeida

Constructions and frame-shifting in short jokes

Elyssa Soares Marinho

Multimodal metaphoric constructions in verbal-gestural compounds

Maíra Avelar