The paper aims at revealing the significant role of function words in the stative format of linguistic knowledge. As it is generally known, the category of function words has a controversial definition and typology, which varies from a small set of members (prepositions, conjunctions and particles) to a wide variety of linguistic units performing mainly some grammatical function. In the cognitive linguistics framework we describe the special conceptual grounding of these language units and argue for their primary function in representing the relations and correlations among objects and events of the world. One of their secondary functions, the stative one, is in the focus of this research. Taking into consideration the results of previous research in the field, we put special attention to prepositions and their role in the process of stativization. It is established that prepositional phrases occupy one of leading positions in the core area of the category of linguistic stativity, thus, structuring the concept of indefinitely lasting states. The revealed metaphorical models of stative interpretation enhance the role of spatial prepositions in the process of forming the secondary stative meaning, mainly in the domains of psychological, emotional and mental states.
Keywords: Function worddominant principleinterpreting meaningstative format of linguistic knowledge
Most linguists accept that there is a list of function words that can be characterized as a “closed class”. But there is actually no consensus on exactly which words it comprises. According to most common definition, function words include conjunctions, prepositions, and pronouns conveying the relationship between other words in a sentence or phrase. Though function words are commonly assumed to play a secondary role in construing the world in language in comparison with content words, and in grammar guidebooks they are often given only a passing note, there are approximately 500 function words in contemporary English. What is more important, there about 100 of them are most common. So, this correlation outlines one aspect of function words domination in our linguistic cognition.
The scientific literature overview highlights some more instantiations of function words role in interpretation of knowledge about the world in general, and in stative format in detail. The recent investigations of function words impact on understanding of what people feel and think draw much attention and boost further studies in different languages (Schmauder, Morris, & Poynor, 2000; Garcia & Martin, 2007; Pennebaker, 2011; Andi-Pallawa, 2013; Corbiere, 2016; Tomacheva, 2016; Almujaiwel, 2019). To point out all the aspects of function words significant place in the stative form of linguistic cognition let’s first shed light on the diversity of their terminology and specific features of typology.
To begin with, function words research firstly focuses on the great variety of possible terms. Function words are also known as structure words, grammatical words, grammatical factors, grammatical morphemes, function morphemes, form words, and empty words. Our choice of “function words” term on the one hand is in line with most common use of this category, and on the other – fully correlates with the meaning of this term. Probably such amount of terms reflects the problems in their typological structure. The cognitive approach to language study (Boldyrev, 2016, 2018) opens the category boundaries for not only already mentioned but for some other members (Tolmacheva, 2017, 2018). According to the function they perform we differentiate the following groups of function words:
prepositions, which function as a link between the members of the event or state,
conjunctions, which function is to unite and define the relations among different events or states,
particles, which “colour” these relations, or take part in formation of these relations,
determiners (articles, possessive pronouns, quantifiers, demonstratives, and numbers), which function is to modify a noun and show whether it is specific or general,
pronouns, which function as antecedents of other words or phrases,
link and auxiliary verbs, which grammatical meaning is prior to lexical and consists in linking of the subject and the nominal or verbal part of predicate, or forming negative statements or questions.
Taking into account the results of previous studies of function words in the light of their ability to interpret different stative meanings, we should mention the works on grammaticalization in general (Lehmann, 2015) and on stativization in detail (Michaelis, 2011; Pavlova, 2018c). Thus, we show the necessity of addressing and developing the idea of the interpretive potential of prepositions (Evans, 2010) through revealing the mechanisms of their stativization (Pavlova, 2018a, 2018b).
The main research question of the study is
What are the aspects of function words domination in forming stative meaning?
To answer this question it is necessary to find out what function words are specific in, how they perform the secondary stative function and what the main conceptual and thematic domain they interpret.
Purpose of the Study
So, the purpose of the study is to reveal the dominant role of prepositions in the stative format of linguistic knowledge.
Among the general methods of dealing with scientific literature we basically use the method of critical analysis of the previous research results, highlighting the directions of function words investigations, and problematic issues in their definition and typology. Among the specific cognitive linguistics methods we use the conceptual analysis of stative forms which are the result of stativization process.
As a result of a conceptual analysis of stative forms we argue that such function words as prepositions perform a dominant role in the stativization process. Stativization as cognitive operation of construing state meanings is based on such cognitive schema as
(5) He cares about the environment, the work situation, how you make a living, if you
A stative form
(7) I think he
(8) Luckily for us no one else seemed
A stative form
(12) I shuddered inwardly, knowing what I
The given examples do not represent the whole picture of prepositional influence on the stative format of linguistic knowledge but tend to show the main strand of metaphorical interpretation of spatial characteristics aiming to form stative meanings. These examples (1-14) are actually instantiations of the well-known Lakoff (1993) metaphoric model STATES ARE LOCATIONS. According to existing dimensions of SPACE we point out the following metaphoric models of stative interpretation of space:
UP-DOWN model, according to it not only examples (1-9) are formed, but many more others, like
IN-AT-ON model, according to it not only examples (10-14) are formed, many others, like
LEFT-RIGHT model, for example:
FAR-NEAR model, for example:
The outlined aspects of domination of such function words as prepositions in stative format of linguistic knowledge include first of all their special role in the process of stativization. As the results of the conceptual analysis show the prepositional linguistic units occupy one of leading positions in the core area of the category of linguistic stativity, thus, structuring the concept of indefinitely lasting states. The revealed metaphorical models (UP-DOWN model, IN-AT-ON model, LEFT-RIGHT model, FAR-NEAR model) of stative interpretation enhance the role of spatial prepositions in the process of forming the secondary stative meaning. Among the dominant stative domains of metaphoric interpretation of SPACE there are mainly psychological, emotional and mental states.
The research is financially supported by the Russian Science Foundation grant (project 18-18-00267) at Derzhavin Tambov State University.
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20 April 2020
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Discourse analysis, translation, linguistics, interpretation, cognition, cognitive psychology
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Tolmacheva, I. N., & Pavlova, A. V. (2020). Function Words In Stative Format Of Linguistic Knowledge: Aspects Of Domination. In & A. Pavlova (Ed.), Philological Readings, vol 83. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 487-491). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2020.04.02.55