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An Interdisciplinary Journal of the Language Sciences

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Pragmatic functions, semantic classes, and lexical categories

William Croft1

1University of New Mexico

Correspondence address: MSC03 2130, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001, USA. E-mail:

Citation Information: Linguistics. Volume 48, Issue 3, Pages 787–796, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: 10.1515/ling.2010.024, June 2010

Publication History

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Smith offers a critique of the theory of parts of speech in Croft (Syntactic categories and grammatical relations: The cognitive organization of information, University of Chicago Press, 1991, Radical construction grammar: Syntactic theory in typological perspective, Oxford University Press, 2001) inter alia. Smith tries to make a functionally-based universal-typological theory of parts of speech provide an answer to the problem of defining word classes and giving those classes the same names across languages (“noun”; “adjective”); this is not possible and not what I intended. Smith conflates semantic properties with pragmatic properties, and he conflates different pragmatic properties that cannot be conflated. There are challenging issues in defining pragmatic functions and their linguistic reflexes, but Smith's critique only briefly touches on them.

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