Levels of Reality

Ronald W. Langacker


Two fundamental aspects of conceptual and linguistic structure are examined in relation to one another: organization into strata, each a baseline giving rise to the next by elaboration; and the conceptions of reality implicated at successive levels of English clause structure. A clause profiles an occurrence (event or state) and grounds it by assessing its epistemic status (location vis-à-vis reality). Three levels are distinguished in which different notions of reality correlate with particular structural features. In baseline clauses, grounded by “tense”, the profiled occurrence belongs to baseline reality (the established history of occurrences). Basic clauses incorporate perspective (passive, progressive, and perfect), and since grounding includes the grammaticized modals as well as negation, basic reality is more elaborate. A basic clause expresses a proposition, comprising the grounded structure and the epistemic status specified by basic grounding. At higher strata, propositions are themselves subject to epistemic assessment, in which conceptualizers negotiate their validity; propositions accepted as valid constitute propositional reality. Propositions are assessed through interactive grounding, in the form of questioning and polarity focusing, and by complementation, in which the matrix clause indicates the status of the complement.


complementation; disjunction; finite verb; focusing; grounding; modal; negation; negotiation; proposition; speech act

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17951/lsmll.2023.47.1.11-36
Data publikacji: 2023-03-17 10:37:01
Data złożenia artykułu: 2022-03-15 14:01:03


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