Causality in verbs and in discourse connectives: Converging evidence of cross-level parallels in Dutch linguistic categorization

Ninke Stukker, Ted Sanders, Arie Verhagen

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37 Citations (Scopus)


Several authors have proposed to describe the meaning and use of causality markers with reference to conceptual models of causality. If a parallel between semantic categories and conceptual categories exists, we would expect that similar conceptual models of causality are manifest across different types of linguistic constructions expressing causality. This cross-level similarity hypothesis is investigated in the present paper. So far, causality markers of different grammatical types have typically been studied in isolation. We argue that for a full understanding of the interaction between conceptual structure and linguistic structure, an integrative perspective on different types of causality markers is needed. We focus on causal verbs (manifest on the clausal level of the linguistic structure) and causal connectives (discourse level) in Dutch. Pursuing the research strategy of converging evidence, we first present theoretical considerations, and subsequently discuss data from language use suggesting that cross-level parallels exist at an analytical level. Then, we report an experiment that aimed to test language users’ intuitions on the cross-level similarity hypothesis. The results are interpreted as empirical evidence for the parallels in meaning of causal verbs and discourse connectives. Remaining challenges for experimental studies of language users’ intuitions are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1296-1322
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul-2008
Externally publishedYes



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