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The LEAdhoC project is financed by the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research (MIUR) under the SIR Program (n. RBSI14IIG0) and is directed by Caterina Mauri. It aims to analyze the linguistic expression of a basic cognitive process, namely the construction of ad hoc categories (Barsalou 1983 and onwards).
What are ad hoc categories? They are categories constructed to achieve specific communicative goals and depend on context for their interpretation (e.g. “activities one can do at home”), are usually less established in memory and less easily mastered by speakers than common categories. While the latter can typically be expressed by fairly short conventional linguistic means (words, e.g. clothing, or small phrases, e.g. vegetarian food), ad hoc categories often do not come with ready-made linguistic labels. Their identification in discourse nonetheless crucially depends on verbalization, i.e. the linguistic strategies that speakers systematically employ to refer to the process of ad hoc category building. [Read more on ad hoc categories]
What are our goals? Although ad hoc categories are ubiquitous in our everyday cognition, no systematic analysis of their linguistic realizations has ever been made. The goal of the LEAdhoC project is to answer the following core theoretical questions, through three complementary research directions:
- TYPOLOGICAL SURVEY – What types of constructions are attested to express ad hoc categories? Are there universal patterns and correlations between the type of ad hoc category, the degree of context-dependence and particular morphosyntactic features?
- DIACHRONIC ANALYSIS – What grammatical resources are recurrently mobilized to convey this function?
- CORPUS-BASED STUDIES – Are there different aims and different ways in which ad hoc categories may be built in discourse?