Model Architecture

The general architecture of the model

Francisco Ruiz de Mendoza & Ricardo Mairal Usón

  • At the heart of the LCM we find the notions of lexical template (LT) and constructional template (CT), which are the building blocks of the model. LCs operate at the core grammar level of description, while CTs are present in different forms (e.g. argumental and idiomatic) at all levels.
  • The principled interaction between lexical and constructional templates containing argumental roles supplies the central or core meaning layer for other more peripheral operations -involving implicated meaning- to take place. Thus, fully worked-out representations at each level either cue for the activation of representations at the next higher level or are constructionally subsumed into them.
  • Both conceptual cueing and constructional subsumption are cognitive processes and as such are constrained by a number of principles that determine their scope of application.
  • At level 1, lexical items are built into constructional representations, which have a more abstract nature. The semantic structure of lexical items is specified in terms of lexical templates, whose internal configuration is established on the basis of combinations of lexical functions and semantic primes, both of which have a number of variables (or predicate arguments) within their scope.
  • These variables and their associated semantic structure fuse into constructional variables (or roles) and their associated structure thus giving rise to core grammar representations.
  • The fusion process, or subsumption, is regulated by internal and external constraints, which are licensing factors that filter out impossible combinations of lexical items with constructions.
  • The LCM also allows for a degree of inferential activity (i.e. conceptual cueing) at the level of core grammar. Thus, sometimes lexical-constructional subsumption may give rise to an underspecified representation at level 1, as in She’s ready [for the party], I will [marry you], The student was late [for his Mathematics class], which, as argued in some pragmatic circles, requires a straightforward form of inferential activity, called explicature derivation (cf. Sperber and Wilson, 1995).
  • Level 2 conceptual representations either result from subsumption of fully worked-out level 1 representations into level 2 constructions or arise from the cued activation of low-level situational models (or scenarios).
  • Or we can have both constructional subsumption and cueing at work thus yielding a rich array of meaning implications. E.g. Who do you think you’re talking to? carries a heavily conventionalized implication that the addressee has acted in a way that upsets the speaker. The strength of the conventional implication depends to a large extent on the do you think element (cf. Who are you talking to?), which thus acquires a fairly stable status within the construction. But the meaning implications can go beyond those obtained on the basis of the constructional mechanism. The Who Do You Think You’re X? configuration is typically associated with every-day situations where the speaker gets upset when the addressee has behaved in socially inappropriate ways that directly affect the speaker negatively. In this situation the speaker may feel that he has a right to challenge the addressee’s behavior.
  • Level 3 representations obey the same principles as their level 2 counterparts. The difference is just one of the kind of scenarios involved in the cueing process, which are not associated to low-level situations (like those found at level 2) but to more generic scenarios which specify higher level social conventions applicable to many different low level situations. Thus, Who do you think you’re talking to? can be interpreted as a warning for the addressee to change his course of action. This speech act value derives from the social convention according to which we are expected –for whatever context- to act in socially acceptable ways, which, if not followed, can give those affected by our behavior the right to take measures. The same basic speech act value can be obtained constructionally through an explicit performative predicate (e.g. I warn you that you are not addressing me appropriately), although there are different usage implications: Who Do You Think You’re X? places greater focus on the misdeed than on the warning since the warning value is only implicit.
  • Level 4 representations, whether constructional or cued, make use of high-level non-situational frames establishing logical connections such as cause-effect or evidence-conclusion, temporal relations such as precedence or simultaneity, or conceptual relations such as similarity, contrast, conditioning, and concession, among others. Note that one single expression can be explained on the basis of the convergence of multiple discourse connections. For example, in The bomb went off; three people died, we have a precedence relationship from the point of view of temporal sequencing, but also a cause-effect connection between the bomb exploding and the people dying.
  • The final meaning representation can require further cueing operations that may still add further illocutionary values or other pragmatic (including added illocutionary meaning) or discourse values, such as irony, humor, and exaggeration, to name a few. For example, constructionally, The bomb went off; three people died can be regarded as an informative statement (level 3); then, after the precedence and cause-consequence connections have been worked out (level 4), we can give the whole sequence another illocutionary reading (e.g. a warning).