Cognitive linguistics


Cognitive linguistics

In linguistics, cognitive linguistics (CL) refers to the branch of linguistics that interprets language in terms of the concepts, sometimes universal, sometimes specific to a particular tongue, which underlie its forms. It is thus closely associated with semantics but is distinct from psycholinguistics, which draws upon empirical findings from cognitive psychology in order to explain the mental processes that underlie the acquisition, storage, production and understanding of speech and writing.

Cognitive linguistics is characterized by adherence to three central positions. First, it denies that there is an autonomous linguistic faculty in the mind; second, it understands grammar in terms of conceptualization; and third, it claims that knowledge of language arises out of language use.[1]

Cognitive linguists deny that the mind has any module for language-acquisition that is unique and autonomous. This stands in contrast to the stance adopted in the field of generative grammar. Although cognitive linguists do not necessarily deny that part of the human linguistic ability is innate, they deny that it is separate from the rest of cognition. They thus reject a body of opinion in cognitive science which suggests that there is evidence for the modularity of language. They argue that knowledge of linguistic phenomena — i.e., phonemes, morphemes, and syntax — is essentially conceptual in nature. However, they assert that the storage and retrieval of linguistic data is not significantly different from the storage and retrieval of other knowledge, and that use of language in understanding employs similar cognitive abilities to those used in other non-linguistic tasks.

Departing from the tradition of truth-conditional semantics, cognitive linguists view meaning in terms of conceptualization. Instead of viewing meaning in terms of models of the world, they view it in terms of mental spaces.

Finally, cognitive linguistics argues that language is both embodied and situated in a specific environment. This can be considered a moderate offshoot of the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, in that language and cognition mutually influence one another, and are both embedded in the experiences and environments of its users.

Contents

Areas of study

Cognitive linguistics is divided into three main areas of study:

Aspects of cognition that are of interest to cognitive linguists include:

Related work that interfaces with many of the above themes:

  • Computational models of metaphor and language acquisition.
  • Conceptual semantics, pursued by generative linguist Ray Jackendoff is related because of its active psychological realism and the incorporation of prototype structure and images.

Cognitive linguistics, more than generative linguistics, seeks to mesh together these findings into a coherent whole. A further complication arises because the terminology of cognitive linguistics is not entirely stable, both because it is a relatively new field and because it interfaces with a number of other disciplines.

Insights and developments from cognitive linguistics are becoming accepted ways of analysing literary texts, too. Cognitive Poetics, as it has become known, has become an important part of modern stylistics.

Controversy

There is significant peer review and debate within the field of linguistics regarding cognitive linguistics. Critics of cognitive linguistics have argued that most of the evidence from the cognitive view comes from the research in pragmatics and semantics on research into metaphor and preposition choice. They suggest that cognitive linguists should provide cognitive re-analyses of topics in syntax and phonology that are understood in terms of autonomous knowledge (Gibbs 1996).

There is also controversy and debate within the field concerning the representation and status of idioms in grammar and the actual mental grammar of speakers. On one hand it is asserted that idiom variation needs to be explained with regard to general and autonomous syntactic rules. Another view says such idioms do not constitute semantic units and can be processed compositionally (Langlotz 2006).

See also

References

Notes

  1. ^ Croft, William and D. Alan Cruse (2004). Cognitive Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 1. 

General references

  • Evans, Vyvyan & Melanie Green (2006). Cognitive Linguistics: An Introduction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Evans, Vyvyan (2007). A Glossary of Cognitive Linguistics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Gibbs (1996) in Casad ED. Cognitive Linguistics in the Redwoods: The Expansion of a New Paradigm in Linguistics (Cognitive Linguistic Research) Mouton De Gruyter (June 1996)ISBN 9783110143584
  • Langlotz, Andreas. 2006. Idiomatic Creativity: A Cognitive-linguistic Model of Idiom-representation And Idiom Variation in English. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Further reading

  • Evans, Vyvyan & Melanie Green (2006). Cognitive Linguistics: An Introduction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Evans, Vyvyan (2007). A Glossary of Cognitive Linguistics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Evans, Vyvyan; Benjamin Bergen & Joerg Zinken (2007). The Cognitive Linguistics Reader. London: Equinox.
  • Evans, Vyvyan, Benjamin K. Bergen and Jörg Zinken. The Cognitive Linguistics Enterprise: An Overview. In Vyvyan Evans, Benjamin K. Bergen and Jörg Zinken (Eds). The Cognitive Linguistics Reader. Equinox Publishing Co.
  • Geeraerts, D. & H. Cuyckens, eds. (2007). The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Geeraerts, D., ed. (2006). Cognitive Linguistics: Basic Readings. Berlin / New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Kristiansen et al., eds. (2006). Cognitive Linguistics: Current Applications and Future Perspectives. Berlin / New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Rohrer, T. Embodiment and Experientialism in Cognitive Linguistics. In the Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics, Dirk Geeraerts and Herbert Cuyckens, eds., Oxford University Press, forthcoming.
  • Gilles Fauconnier has written a brief, manifesto-like introduction to Cognitive linguistics, which compares it to mainstream, Chomsky-inspired linguistics. See Introduction to Methods and Generalizations. In T. Janssen and G. Redeker (Eds). Scope and Foundations of Cognitive Linguistics. The Hague: Mouton De Gruyter. Cognitive Linguistics Research Series. (on-line version)
  • Grady, Oakley, and Coulson (1999). "Blending and Metaphor". In Metaphor in cognitive linguistics, Steen and Gibbs (eds.). Philadelphia: John Benjamins. (online version)
  • Schmid, H. J. et al. (1996). An Introduction to Cognitive Linguistics. New York, Longman.
  • Fauconnier, G. (1997). Mappings in Thought and Language.
  • Taylor, J. R. (2002). Cognitive Grammar. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
  • Croft, W. & D.A. Cruse (2004) Cognitive Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Tomasello, M. (2003). Constructing a Language. A Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition. Harvard University Press.
  • Fauconnier, Gilles and Mark Turner (2003). The Way We Think. New York: Basic Books.
  • Lakoff, George (1987). Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal About the Mind University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-46804-6.

External links


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