Patterns of usage for english SIT, STAND, and LIE: a cognitively inspired exploration in corpus linguistics

John Newman, Sally Rice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Posture verbs with the meanings "sit", "stand", and "lie" are of considerable interest within cognitive linguistics on account of the richness of the polysemy and grammaticalizations that they enter into across languages. We explore the usage of English SIT, STAND, and LIE in over a dozen electronic corpora, relying primarily on the British National Corpus, a 100-million word database of written and spoken language. The investigation reveals some interesting patterns of usage with these verbs which are reminiscent of the polysemy and grammaticalization facts associated with like items in other languages. Unlike some of their cross-linguistic correlates, the English cardinal posture verbs have not grammaticalized. Nevertheless, they are showing functional symptoms typically associated with the posture cohort in terms of frequency, collocational fixedness, tense / aspect-marking, and choice of participants, especially subject. Moreover, the actual constructional behavior of English SIT, STAND, and LIE gleaned from the corpora can be used to corroborate introspective and experimental evidence into their meaning and function in the language and suggest how these items may further develop in generations to come.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-396
Number of pages46
JournalCognitive Linguistics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Auxiliation
  • Collocation
  • Corpus linguistics
  • Grammaticalization
  • Posture verbs
  • Word association

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