Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
In This Section

Cognitive Linguistics

Editor-in-Chief: Newman, John

4 Issues per year


IMPACT FACTOR 2016: 2.135

CiteScore 2016: 1.29

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2015: 0.592
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2015: 1.277

Online
ISSN
1613-3641
See all formats and pricing
In This Section
Volume 26, Issue 4 (Nov 2015)

Issues

How do gerunds conceptualize events? A diachronic study

Lauren Fonteyn
  • University of Leuven, Belgium & Research Foundation Flanders, Belgium
  • Email:
/ Liesbet Heyvaert
  • University of Leuven, Belgium
  • Email:
/ Charlotte Maekelberghe
  • Corresponding author
  • University of Leuven, Belgium
  • Email:
Published Online: 2015-10-24 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2015-0061

Abstract

This article offers a cognitive perspective on the evolution of the semantics of English nominal gerunds (NG) (I regret the signing of the contract) and verbal gerunds (VG) (I regret signing the contract). While the formal differences between NGs and VGs are well documented, their semantics remains largely unexplored territory. The perspective that is taken here is centered on the linguistic notion of reference and various aspects of the conceptualization involved in it. As they formally hover between more nominal and more clause-like internal properties, gerunds form an interesting test case for the cognitive perspective on referentiality. Our corpus analysis describes how the situations that NGs and VGs refer to are conceptualized as deictic expressions grounded in the speech event in Present-day English, and how this has changed since the Early Modern period. It is shown that only a multi-layered model of referentiality can account for the subtle differences found between NGs and VGs: while no fundamental shifts are found with regard to the traditional referential subtypes (specific, non-specific, generic), NGs and VGs do turn out to differ in their choice for either nominal or clausal grounding mechanisms, in their status as existentially stable or flexible entities and in the mental spaces in which they situate the events that they conceptualize.

Keywords: gerunds; reference; grounding; mental spaces; conceptualization

References

  • Bolinger, Dwight. 1968. Aspects of language. New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World.

  • Brinton, Laurel. 1998. Aspectuality and countability: A cross-categorial analogy. English Language and Linguistics 2(1). 37–63.

  • Carlson, Gregory N. 1988. On the semantic composition of English generic sentences. In Gennaro Chierchia, Barbara H. Partee & Raymond Turner (eds.), Properties, types and meaning. Vol. II: Semantic issues, 167–192. Dordrecht: D. Reidel Publishing.

  • Chomsky, Noam. 1970. Remarks on nominalization. In Roderick A. Jacobs & Peter S. Rosenbaum (eds.), Readings in English transformational grammar, 184–221. Waltham: Ginn.

  • Collins COBUILD corpus. Glasgow: HarperCollins Publishers.

  • Conrad, Bent. 1982. Referring and non-referring phrases: A study in the use of the gerund and the infinitive (Publications of the Department of English, University of Copenhagen, Vol. 11). Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag.

  • Croft, William. 1991. Syntactic categories and grammatical relations. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • Davidse, Kristin. 1997. The subject-object versus the agent-patient asymmetry. Leuvense Bijdragen (Leuven Contributions in Linguistics and Philology) 86(4). 413–431.

  • Davies, Mark. 2004–. BYU-BNC. (Based on the British National Corpus from Oxford University Press). http://corpus.byu.edu/bnc/ (accessed May 2015).

  • Davies, Mark. 2008–. The Corpus of Contemporary American English: 450 million words, 1990–present. http://corpus.byu.edu/coca/ (accessed May 2015).

  • Declerck, Renaat. 1991. A comprehensive descriptive grammar of English. Tokyo: Kaitakusha.

  • De Smet, Hendrik. 2007. Nominal gerunds in 16th-century English. The function of the definite article. Folia Linguistica Historica 28(1). 77–113.

  • De Smet, Hendrik. 2008. Functional motivations in the development of nominal and verbal gerunds in Middle and Early Modern English. English Language and Linguistics 12(1). 55–102.

  • De Smet, Hendrik. 2013. Spreading patterns: Diffusional change in the English system of complementation (Oxford Studies in the History of English 3). New York: Oxford University Press.

  • De Smet, Hendrik & Freek Van de Velde. 2013. Serving two masters: Form-function friction in syntactic amalgams. Studies in Language 37(3). 534–565.

  • Donnellan, Keith S. 1966. Reference and definite descriptions. The Philosophical Review 75(3). 281–304.

  • Donner, Morton. 1986. The gerund in Middle English. English Studies 67, 390–400.

  • Duffley, Patrick J. 1992. The English infinitive. London: Longman.

  • Duffley, Patrick J. 2000. Gerund versus infinitive as complement of transitive verbs in English: The problems of “tense” and “control”. Journal of English Linguistics 28. 221–248.

  • Duffley, Patrick J. 2003. The gerund and the to-infinitive as subject. Journal of English Linguistics 31(4). 324–352.

  • Duffley, Patrick J. 2006. The English gerund-participle: A comparison with the infinitive (Berkeley insights in linguistics and semiotics 61). New York: Peter Lang.

  • Duffley, Patrick J. 2014. Reclaiming control as a semantic and pragmatic phenomenon. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

  • Fanego, Teresa. 1996a. The gerund in Early Modern English: Evidence from the Helsinki Corpus. Folia Linguistica Historica 17. 97–152.

  • Fanego, Teresa. 1996b. The development of gerunds as objects of subject-control verbs in English (1400–1760). Diachronica 13. 29–62.

  • Fanego, Teresa. 2004. On reanalysis and actualization in syntactic change: The rise and development of English verbal gerunds. Diachronica 21. 5–55. [Crossref]

  • Fauconnier, Gilles. 1985. Mental spaces. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • Fonteyn, Lauren. In press. From nominal to verbal gerunds: A referential typology. Functions of Language.

  • Fonteyn, Lauren & Liesbet Heyvaert. In press. Category change in the English gerund: Tangled web or fine-tuned constructional network? In Kristel Van Goethem, Muriel Norde, Evy Coussé & Gudrun Vanderbauwhede (eds.), Category change from a constructional perspective. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

  • Fonteyn, Lauren, Hendrik De Smet & Liesbet Heyvaert. 2015. What it means to verbalize: The changing discourse function of the English gerund. Journal of English Linguistics 43(1). 1–25.

  • Fraser, Bruce. 1970. Some remarks on the action nominalization in English. In Roderick A. Jacobs & Peter S. Rosenbaum (eds.), Readings in English transformational grammar, 83–98. Waltham: Ginn.

  • Givón, Talmy. 1984. Syntax: A functional-typological introduction. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

  • Givón, Talmy. 2001. Syntax: An introduction. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

  • Heyvaert, Liesbet. 2003. A cognitive-functional approach to nominalization. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

  • Heyvaert, Liesbet. 2004. Towards a symbolic typology of -ing nominalizations. In Michel Achard & Suzanne Kemmer (eds.), Language, culture and mind, 493–506. Stanford: CSLI.

  • Heyvaert, Liesbet. 2008. On the constructional semantics of gerundive nominalizations. Folia Linguistica: Acta Societatis Linguisticae Europaeae 42(1). 39–82.

  • Hilpert, Martin & Stefan Th. Gries. 2009. Assessing frequency changes in multi-stage diachronic corpora: Applications for historical corpus linguistics and the study of language acquisition. Literary and Linguistic Computing 24(4). 385–401.

  • Hopper, Paul J. & Sandra A. Thompson. 1985. The iconicity of the universal categories ‘noun’ and ‘verbs’. In John Haiman (ed.), Iconicity in syntax(Typological Studies in Language 6)151–186. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

  • Huddleston, Rodney D. & Geoffrey K. Pullum. 2002. The Cambridge grammar of the English language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Jack, George. 1988. The origins of the English gerund. Nowele 12. 15–75.

  • Jackendoff, Ray. 1983. Semantics and cognition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • Komen, Erwin, Rosanne Hebing, Ans van Kemenade & Bettelou Los. 2014. Quantifying information structure change in English. In Kristin Bech & Kristine Gunn Eide (eds.), Information structure and syntactic change in Germanic and Romance languages, 81–110. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins

  • Kroch, Anthony, Beatrice Santorini & Lauren Delfs. 2004. The Penn-Helsinki Parsed Corpus of Early Modern English (PPCEME). Department of Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania. CD-ROM, first edition, http://www.ling.upenn.edu/hist-corpora/.

  • Kroch, Anthony, Beatrice Santorini & Ariel Diertani. 2010. The Penn-Helsinki Parsed Corpus of Modern British English (PPCMBE). Department of Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania. CD-ROM, first edition, http://www.ling.upenn.edu/hist-corpora/.

  • Langacker, Ronald W. 1987. Foundations of cognitive grammar 1: Theoretical prerequisites. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

  • Langacker, Ronald W. 1991. Foundations of cognitive grammar 2: Descriptive application. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

  • Langacker, Ronald W. 2002. Concept, image, symbol: The cognitive basis of grammar, 2nd edn. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

  • Langacker, Ronald, 2008. Cognitive grammar: A basic introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.

  • Langacker, Ronald W. 2009. Investigations in cognitive grammar. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

  • Lees, Robert B. 1968 [1960]. The grammar of English nominalizations. Bloomington: IURC.

  • Lyons, John. 1977. Semantics (Vol. 2). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Maekelberghe, Charlotte. 2015. Present-day English nominal and verbal gerunds. A multi-layered referential framework. Manuscript in preparation.

  • Maekelberghe, Charlotte, Lauren Fonteyn & Liesbet Heyvaert. 2014. Indefinite and bare nominal gerunds from Middle to Present-day English – exploiting the nominal paradigm? Paper presented at the International Society for the Linguistics of English Conference, University of Zürich, 24–27 August.

  • Maekelberghe, Charlotte & Liesbet Heyvaert. In press. Indefinite nominal gerunds, or the particularization of a reified event. English Studies.

  • Quirk, Randolph, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech & Jan Svartvik. 1985. A comprehensive grammar of the English language. London: Longman.

  • Radden, Günter & René Dirven. 2007. Cognitive English grammar. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

  • Schachter, Paul. 1976. A nontransformational account of gerundive nominals in English. Linguistic Inquiry 7(2). 205–241.

  • Tajima, Matsuji. 1985. The syntactic development of the gerund in Middle English. Tokyo: Nan’un-do.

  • Taylor, John R. 2002. Cognitive grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • van der Wurff, Wim. 1993. Gerunds and their objects in the Modern English period. In Jaap van Marle (ed.), Historical Linguistics 1991 Papers from the 10th International Conference on Historical Linguistics, Amsterdam, August 12–16, 1991 (Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 107), 363–375. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

  • van der Wurff, Wim. 1997. Deriving object-verb order in late Middle English. Journal of Linguistics 33, 485–509.

  • Vendler, Zeno. 1967. Linguistics in Philosophy. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

  • von Heusinger, Klaus. 2002. Specificity and definiteness in sentence and discourse structure. Journal of Semantics 19. 245–274.

  • Wierzbicka, Anna. 1988. The Semantics of grammar. Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

  • Willemse, Peter. 2005. Nominal reference-point contructions: Possessive and esphoric NPs in English. Leuven: University of Leuven unpublished PhD thesis.

About the article

Received: 2015-06-04

Revised: 2015-09-07

Accepted: 2015-09-08

Published Online: 2015-10-24

Published in Print: 2015-11-01


Funding: Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) (Grant/Award Number: ‘G0A5412N’), KU Leuven Research Council (Grant/Award Number: ‘13/045’).



Citation Information: Cognitive Linguistics, ISSN (Online) 1613-3641, ISSN (Print) 0936-5907, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2015-0061. Export Citation

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in