The grammar of the utterance: How to do things with Ibero-Romance

Research output: Book/ReportBook


This book examines how speakers of Ibero-Romance ‘do things’ with conversational units of language, paying particular attention to what they do with vocatives, interjections, and particles; and to what they do with illocutionary complementisers, items attested cross-linguistically which look like, but do not behave like, subordinators. Taking the behaviour of these conversation-oriented items as a window into the indexical nature of language, it argues that these items provide insight into how language-as-grammar builds the universe of discourse. By identifying the underlying unity in how different Ibero-Romance languages, alongside their Romance cousins and Latin ancestors, use grammar to refer—i.e. to connect our inner world to the one outside—, the book’s empirical arguments are underpinned by the philosophical position that the configurational architecture of grammar also configures the architecture of the mind. The book thus brings together the recent flurry of work seeking to incorporate aspects of the context of the utterance into the syntax, a line of enquiry broadly founded on empirical considerations, with the pursuit of explanatory adequacy via a so-called ‘un- Cartesian’ grammar of reference. In so doing, it formalises the intuition that language users do things not with words, but with grammar. Drawing on a wealth of naturalistic data from social media and online corpora, augmented by elicited introspective judgments, the book brings new insight to the colloquial grammar and morphosyntactic variation of (Ibero-)Romance, and showcases the utility of comparative work on this language family in advancing our empirical and conceptual understanding of the organisation of grammar.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages368
ISBN (Print)9780198856597
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2022

Publication series

NameOxford Studies in Theoretical Linguistics
PublisherOxford University Press


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