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Cognitive Linguistics PDF Print E-mail

Cognitive linguistics has only recently been organized into a coherent view of language production and comprehension, even though some of the ideas it espouses have been around for a long time. The model is articulated around the following somewhat simplified tenets presented here in no particular order.


First, there is no specialized language faculty. Linguistic activity emerges through the specialization of general cognitive abilities. Secondly, the specific form of linguistic expressions reflects their communicative and cognitive functions. Consequently, grammatical investigation seeks to elucidate the specific functions the analyzed forms convey. Thirdly, the grammar of a language is said to be usage-based because the specific conditions in which language forms are used, as reflected in their frequency, collocations, diffusion, etc. directly impact their systemic organization. Additionally, usage-based grammars are maximalist and bottom up, because both the specific instances of language use and the patterns of regularity which emerge from their commonalities (the rules) cohabitate in the system, where they reveal different facets of the speaker’s knowledge of linguistic conventions. Finally, the subject of cognitive linguistics is human conceptualization, as evidenced by linguistic production. It therefore espouses a subjectivist and anthropomorphic view where meaning centrally reflects human matters, from their physical shape to their interests and concerns. In particular, the conceptual background against which meaning is characterized (frames, metaphor, metonymy, and blends) represent a particularly well investigated area.

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