Synopses & Reviews
This is a new approach to cognitive linguistics, which aims at analysing knowledge of language; the modularity of its structural representation, the principles of its acquisition, and the conditions of its actual use. The volume adds new and sometimes surprising insight to the previous range of empirical studies and theoretical investigations dealing with dimensional adjectives and the constructions in which they occur. The syntax and semantics of dimensional adjectives are used as a window to look into the complex interaction of grammar and cognition. The contributions present an in-depth study of the conceptual modules underlying gradation and spatial dimensioning, give a detailed account of their interrelation, and thus provide initial steps towards an integrated and systematic understanding of the structures and processes involved.
The present volume is the result of a project which concentrated on a selected subset of linguistic knowledge with the aim of giving a systematic account of the various aspects of structure and process in this subset and the interpretation of these. The subset that for a number of reasons appeared appropriate to this undertaking centres around the dimensional adjectives of German. That the en terprise ultimately produced a less integrated and complete result than expected is due to several reasons. Some of these are of an intrinsic nature, ever present, and not particularly surprising. Some, however, are related to the character of the project itself and are worth commenting upon, as they reflect specific expe riences and difficulties which we encountered during several years of working on the project. We started from the assumption that the dimensional adjectives constitute a sufficiently rich, but nevertheless limited domain of grammatical and concep tual structure which is fairly well understood and explored in relevant aspects. Consequently we expected that summarizing, integrating, and extending the nu merous results that were available should quickly lead to a more complete picture of the interaction of the components involved. However, even had the premise of this assumption been correct, the conclusion turned out to be wrong fairly early in the project. On closer inspection, the investigations of the phenomena were much less complete, the facts agreed upon less systematic, and the proposed anal yses far less convincing than supposed initially."