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What is Cognitive Linguistics ?. Laura A. Janda laura.janda @ uit.no. Cognitive linguistics. Minimal Assumption : language can be accounted for in terms of general cognitive strategies no autonomous language faculty no strict division between grammar and lexicon

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What is cognitive linguistics

What is CognitiveLinguistics?

Laura A. Janda

[email protected]


Cognitive linguistics
Cognitivelinguistics

Minimal Assumption: languagecan be accounted for in terms of general cognitivestrategies

  • noautonomouslanguagefaculty

  • nostrictdivisionbetweengrammar and lexicon

  • no a prioriuniversals

    Usage-Based: generalizationsemerge from language data

  • nostrictdivisionbetweenlangue and parole

  • no underlying forms

    Meaning is Central: holds for all languagephenomena

  • nosemanticallyempty forms

  • differences in behavioraremotivated (but not specificallypredicted) by differences in meaning

  • metaphor and metonymy play a major role in grammar


Language cognition
Language & Cognition

  • Linguisticcognition has nospecial status

    • All linguisticphenomenacan be explained via general cognitivemechanisms

  • Language is not dividedintodiscretelevels or modules

    • phonology, morphology, syntax and lexicon form a continuousphenomenon

    • primarymotive for all linguisticphenomena is meaning


Prediction embodiment
Prediction & Embodiment

  • Goal is to discovermotivationsratherthan to formulatepredictions

    • iflinguisticphenomenaweretrulypredictable, therewouldn’t be anyvariation

    • universalsarefew and non-specific, manyphenomena have language-specificaspects

  • Meaning is grounded in physicalexperiences, dependent uponthearchitectureofourbodies, perceptual organs and brains

    • meaningcannot be achieved by symbols alone


Cognitive categories
Cognitivecategories

  • Linguistic categories are cognitive categories and have the same structure

    • Established through research in psychology and neurobiology

    • Radial category centered on a prototype with extensions

    • Extension via mapping: metaphor, metonymy, blends


Examples of cognitive categories
Examplesofcognitivecategories

  • The nextfew slides will present someitems.

  • Try to seeiftherearedifferencesamongthevariouslanguagesthatyouspeak.


Which two items belong together
Whichtwoitemsbelongtogether?


How many of you chose this solution
How manyofyouchosethissolution?



Why did you choose the solution you did
Whydidyouchoosethesolutionyoudid?

English: chair

Czech: židle

English: wheelchair

Czech: vozejk = ‘cart’

English: cart

Czech: vozejk = ‘cart’



If you speak english your chair category looks like this
If you speak English, your chair category looks like this:

rocking chair

lawn chair

chair

high chair

armchair

wheel chair


If you speak norwegian your chair category looks like this
IfyouspeakNorwegian, yourchaircategorylooks like this:

gyngestol

solseng

stol

barnestol

lenestol

rullestol


If you speak czech your category is
If you speak Czech, your category is:

houpácí

židle

lehátko

židlička

židle

křeslo

vozejk


Russian has two different categories
Russian has two different categories:

кресло-

качалка

шезлонг

высокийстульчик

стул

кресло

инвалидная коляска

(кресло-)каталка


The take home lesson about chairs
The take-homelessonaboutchairs:

  • Categorization isn’t “out there” in the world, reality can be categorized in different ways

  • Different languages can use different strategies for categorizing experience



A: The apples are inside-bowl apples are

B: The apples are loose fitting-bowl

C: The apples are concave valley that faces me-bowl

D: The apples are stomach-bowl


The take home lesson about apples
The apples aretake-homelessonaboutapples:

  • Meaning is basedonembodiedexperience

  • Meaning is also present in “grammatical” phenomenasuch as functorwords (like pre- and post-positions) and case

    • Becausethelexicon and grammarare a continuum

  • Differentlanguagescanrecruitdifferentembodiedexperiences for this purpose:

    • Container vs. Surface, Tight vs. Loosefit, Topography, Body parts, etc.


You are inside a house. apples are

Suddenly a dog appears,

moving very rapidly

through the door.

How could you describe

what the dog did?


El perro entr apples areó corriendo

Hunden løp inn


The take home lesson about dogs
The apples aretake-homelessonaboutdogs:

  • Meaningcan be representeddifferently in different grammars

    • Verb-framedlanguages (like Spanish) focusonthepathof motion, and the manner of motion is expressedoptionally, as an adverbial

    • Sattelite-framedlanguages (like Norwegian) focusonthe manner of motion, and thepath is expressed in a particle or prefix


Cognitive linguistics is usage based
Cognitive apples arelinguistics is usage-based

  • Weareinterested in performance, not just competence

  • Muchwork in cognitivelinguisticsinvolvesauthenticlanguage data: corpora

  • Language data is oftenanalyzed via statisticalmodels


What is cognitive linguistics1
What apples are is CognitiveLinguistics?

  • Explanationoflinguisticphenomena via general cognitivemechanisms

  • Meaning is themotive for language and is embodied in physicalexperience

  • Radial categoriesbasedon prototypes withextensions via metaphor & metonymy

  • Lexicon & grammarare a continuum, observe same patterns

  • Empirical (statistical) analysisofauthenticlanguage data (corpora)


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