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From Conceptual Metaphor Theory to Cognitive Ethnolinguistics

Patterns of Imagery in Language


Edited By Marek Kuźniak, Agnieszka Libura and Michał Szawerna

The origins of this volume lie in the international conference Cognitive Linguistics in the Year 2012, convened by the Polish Cognitive Linguistics Association. The proceedings of the conference revolved around three major thematic areas: metaphorical and metonymic underpinnings of meaning in language and beyond, prototypical and gradual phenomena pertaining to linguistic categorization across the lexicogrammatical continuum, and the need for advancing theoretical tools. These recurring themes are reflected in the three-part structure of this volume, with contributions from nearly two dozen researchers exploring a broad array of linguistic as well as non-linguistic data.
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Levels of countability: A corpus based study


Jacek Woźny University of Wrocław


The goal of the paper is to investigate the fuzziness (membership gradience) of the conceptual categories of things and substances, linguistically coded as countable and uncountable nouns. The method is based on the statistical coefficient of APRS (average perceived referent size), which is estimated by analysis of a random sample of corpus texts containing a particular noun. The comparison of APRS for a group of English countable and uncountable nouns shows that countability is indeed gradable. The method can also explain why some English nouns like peas, flowers and pebbles are countable and others like maize, grass and gravel are not, despite the fact that the size and other physical qualities of their referents are practically equal.

Keywords: corpus study, statistics, countability

1. Introduction

Joosten (2003) divides the linguistic enquiry into count/uncount distinction into four major schools: grammatical (Bloomfield 1933), ontological (Quine 1960), conceptual-semantic (for example, Wierzbicka 1988, 1991; Langacker 1987; Berezowski 1999) and contextual (for example, Ware 1979). He summarizes his paper as follows: “the count-mass distinction cannot be reduced to an exclusively grammatical, ontological, conceptual-semantic, or contextual issue. Instead, it should be analyzed as a multidimensional phenomenon” (Joosten 2003: 227).

While I agree that an enlightened, wide-scope approach should be paramount of any scientific endeavour, I think Joosten underestimates the conceptual-semantic approach, by not noticing that it is in fact based on an intricate connection of...

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