8. Asymmetric events, subordination, and grammatical categories

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The notion of asymmetric events plays a central role in many theories of subordination. Subordination has been associated with various types of event asymmetry, such as foreground-background, figure-ground, asserted vs. nonasserted information, and presence vs. absence of an autonomous cognitive profile for individual events. This paper discusses the consequences of this view for the definition of subordination as a grammatical category. It is shown that event asymmetry as such does not correspond to any consistent constructional class, either cross-linguistically or within individual languages. As a result, event asymmetry should be kept distinct from subordination as a grammatical category. Event asymmetry is a component of a number of different constructions and provides a sound basis for comparing these constructions both cross-linguistically and within individual languages. However, these constructions correspond to different grammatical categories, any of which may be arbitrarily labeled as subordination. These categories are languagespecific and construction-specific.


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