Vigo International Journal of Applied Linguistics VIAL

Lorena Pérez Hernández (1) and Francisco José Ruiz de Mendoza Ibáñez (1): A Lexical-Constructional Model Account of Illocution. VIAL. Number 8/2011: 98-137.


The present article is a contribution to the understanding of non-inferential illocutionary meaning production. The theoretical framework, which is compatible with constructionist approaches to language such as Goldberg’s (1995, 2006) Construction Grammar, is the Lexical Constructional Model or LCM (Ruiz de Mendoza and Mairal, 2008a; Mairal and Ruiz de Mendoza, 2009). In dealing with speech act meaning, the LCM has so far proposed the following meaning construction mechanisms: (i) cued inferencing based on the metonymic access of highlevel situational models or speech act scenarios; (ii) illocutionary constructions, such as Can You X, please? for requests; (iii) lexical descriptions, which are the equivalent of classical performative predicates; (iv) argument structure constructions, like the manipulative subjective-transitive construction (e.g. I want you out by lunchtime). In the present article, we improve the existing proposal by exploring in what way the elements of speech act scenarios can be made part of lexical structure, thus enriching the description of lexical templates for speech act predicates (e.g. order, beg, threaten) on the basis of Pustejovsky’s (1995) notion of qualia structure. In so doing, we show that such descriptions allow the analyst to account for the constraining factors on the syntactic behavior of speech act predicates in terms of lexical-constructional integration at the argument structure level (e.g. the use of a speech act predicate in the caused-motion construction). This account also allows us to study complementary ways of producing conventional speech act meaning through the use of other lexical and constructional resources such as the to be to construction for ordering and the constructional configuration You Are Going To X plus expressions of immediateness. The resulting account makes explicit links between lexical structure and high-level situational cognitive models. It also enhances the role of (non-inferential) lexical and constructional devices in conveying illocutionary meaning.

Keywords: Lexical-Constructional Model, cognitive models, illocutionary construction, speech acts, qualia structure.

(1) Universidad de la Rioja, Spain.

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