Project overview

Ad hoc categories  ||  Research directions  ||  Converging evidence ||  Impact

The LEAdhoC project aims to analyze the linguistic expression of a basic cognitive process, namely the construction of ad hoc categories (Barsalou 1983 and onwards).

Ad hoc categories are constructed to achieve 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.

Although ad hoc categories are ubiquitous in our everyday cognition, no systematic analysis of their linguistic realizations has ever been made. The LEAdhoC project aims to fill this gap.

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