Annual Review of Cognitive Linguistics: Volume 5
  • ISSN 1572-0268
  • E-ISSN: 1572-0276
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A bi-polar theory of the structure and function of nominals and clauses is presented in which a specifier, functioning as a referential pole, and a head, functioning as a relational pole, combine to form a referring expression. The theory applies to both object referring expressions, in the case of nominals, and situation referring expressions, in the case of clauses. The bi-polar theory is contrasted with X-Bar Theory — a uni-polar theory in which the head uniquely determines the type of the larger expression in which it occurs. Uni-polar theories adopt a strong notion of endocentricity, which is rejected in the bi-polar theory, where both the specifier and the head make significant and meaningful contributions to the larger expressions in which they occur. The bi-polar theory is also contrasted with Langacker’s conception of the basic structure and function of nominals and clauses.


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