Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton May 5, 2012

Converse categorization strategies

Christian Lehmann,
From the journal Linguistics


The categorization alluded to in the title is the assignment of a class of concepts to a lexeme class and/or a syntactic category. The purpose of the paper is to establish converseness of strategies of categorization among languages as a typological concept. It is argued that, quite in general, coding strategies in a given functional domain may be oriented in opposite directions across languages. Particular attention will be paid to the relationship between basic/lexical categorization and derived/syntactic categorization.

A particular kind of converseness is produced by the alternative of basically lexicalizing some concept in grammatical category Ci and transferring it into category Cj by derivational or grammatical operations, or vice versa. The chief empirical domain to illustrate the principle is the categorization of dynamic relational concepts as verbs vs. non-verbs, the latter paired with prominence of light-verb constructions in the grammar. A couple of other functional domains susceptible of the same kind of analysis are analyzed more summarily.

Whenever the elements of a certain conceptual field or functional domain are uniformly lexicalized in some particular category, this is typically coupled with a regular operation of recategorization into its complementary category. In such cases, both the basic category assignment and the presence of the operation shape the structure of sentences and of texts in the language.

Received: 2010-04-26
Revised: 2011-01-12
Published Online: 2012-05-05
Published in Print: 2012-05-18

©[2012] by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston

Scroll Up Arrow