Iconicity and the grammar–lexis interface

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This study examines the proposal in Cognitive Grammar (Langacker 1987, Talmy 2000) that grammatical classes are iconically motivated. The discussion follows a case-study to test this hypothesis. Using found data, we examine the productivity of a range of grammatical classes across Dutch, English, and German. The study bases its analysis on the lexical concept of precipitation. The perceptual and universal nature of such a concept should be a best-case scenario for the iconic motivation of grammatical classes. However, despite this, the test case produces mixed results. Although the hypothesis is not disproved, we reveal how it cannot, alone, explain the vagaries of lexical – class grammaticality.


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