A corpus investigation of english cognition verbs and their effect on the incipient epistemization of physical activity verbs

Sally Rice, John Newman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In the spirit of NSM accounts that attempt to build up a language's full expressivity from a small set of lexical primitives, we have investigated the usage in English of basic verbs of ideation (think, know) and physical activity (strike, hit, go, run) as they take on new epistemic meanings and functions, all the while calcifying in their inflectional range. It is well known that certain verbs of cognition in English such as remember, forget, and think are grammaticalizing into pragmatic particles of epistemic stance and, consequently, 1st person singular (1sg) forms account for the majority of usages. Likewise, we have carried out systematic queries and hand-tagging of corpus returns and have found that many verbs and phrasal expressions, ideational or not, seem to be associated with rather narrow collocational patterning, argument structure, and inflectional marking in almost idiom-like and constructional fashion. Moreover, we find that expressions associated with 1sg and 2nd person "cognizers" are, to a large extent, in complementary distribution, giving rise to fairly strong semantic differences in how I and you "ideate". In this study, we demonstrate the extent of inflectional and collocational specificity for verbs of cognition and physical activity and discuss implications this lexico-syntactic idiosyncracy has for cognitive linguistics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)560-580
Number of pages21
JournalRussian Journal of Linguistics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Cognition
  • Collocation
  • Corpus methods
  • Epistemization
  • Inflectional categories
  • Lexico-syntax

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