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Journal Articles Recherches Anglaises et Nord Americaines Year : 2018

At the Crossroads of Cognition and Emotion: Wonder, a Multifunctional and Polysemous Marker


Wonder belongs to two subclasses of cognition verbs. As a lexical verb, it appears in sentences expressing either an affective stance or a mental process. Wonder licenses a wide range of complements, mainly preposition phrases (e.g. about-PP, at-PP) and various types of finite clauses (e.g. if-clauses, Wh-clauses, that-clauses). Moreover, wonder can also be used as a discourse marker, in parenthetical constructions or in exclamatory sentences, for instance. The present study sets out to accomplish three main goals: first, to establish whether each syntactic construction or type of complementation matches with one particular meaning – cognition or emotion; second, to determine the discursive uses of wonder, both in its cognitive and emotive senses; third, to shed light on the parameters and factors that allow for a unified perspective on wonder. To achieve this, a qualitative, corpus-based analysis is conducted, which helps to understand to what extent different grammatical codings embody specific ways of viewing the scene. First, the definitions of the concepts involved – cognition and emotion – and verbal typologies are presented in Section 1, which is also devoted to the definition of wonder and the respective characteristics of cognitive and emotive verbs. Section 2 presents the methodology employed to collect data for the study, as well as a corpus-based typology of the complements of wonder. The two sections that follow focus on cognitive wonder and emotive wonder, and their respective prototypical constructions, while underlining their differing discursive functions. Finally, a synthesis of all the meanings and uses of wonder is proposed, bringing to light that wonder is a telling example of the continuum existing between the intellectual, cognitive pole and the subjective, emotive pole. This continuum is iconic of the unbroken chain of cognitive processes in the human mind, which implies that the structure of the lexical field of cognition mirrors the organisation of cognitive phenomena. The study shows that syntax is motivated by meaning: the syntactic constructions are in keeping with the two different senses of wonder and its functions in discourse. They are not interchangeable, as they contribute to both conveying a particular meaning and carrying out a precise discursive function, which are adapted to the speaker’s intentions.


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hal-02170645 , version 1 (01-11-2022)


  • HAL Id : hal-02170645 , version 1


Christelle Lacassain-Lagoin. At the Crossroads of Cognition and Emotion: Wonder, a Multifunctional and Polysemous Marker. Recherches Anglaises et Nord Americaines, 2018, The Representation of Emotions across Discourse Genres, 51, pp.7-29. ⟨hal-02170645⟩


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