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Cognitive Linguistics

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Conceptual blending and the interpretation of relatives: A case study from Greek

Kiki Nikiforidou1


Citation Information: Cognitive Linguistics. Volume 16, Issue 1, Pages 169–206, ISSN (Online) 1613-3641, ISSN (Print) 0936-5907, DOI: 10.1515/cogl.2005.16.1.169, July 2005

Publication History

14 January 2003
12 January 2004
Published Online:


This article examines instances of the pu relative construction in Modern Greek in which the semantic role of the head is underspecified by the syntax. Such cases include sentences whose nominal head corresponds to some complement of the relative clause predicate and sentences in which the head does not have any sort of syntactic relationship with the relative. The latter, which are characteristic of oral, informal discourse, have been completely ignored in the previous literature, which has defined relatives on the basis of exclusively structural criteria. It is argued that a unified account of the pu-construction (including gapped and gapless relatives) can be achieved if we analyze it as a conventional instruction for a particular kind of conceptual integration. Semantic and pragmatic factors influencing successful construal (one which leads to the construction of a unique blend) are systematically examined. The lack of a clear cut-off point in acceptability for such utterances tallies with the conclusion reached here, namely that the constraints governing such uses are constraints on interpretability.

Keywords: relative clauses; blending; Greek; gapless relatives; recoverability

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