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Language and the Mind Prof. R. Hickey SS 06 Cognitive Linguistics Olga Zajatchkovskaja
Introduction Cognitive linguistics emerged in the 1970 s -is an approach to language that is based on our experience of the world and the way we perceive and conceptualize it. 3 major hypotheses guide cognitive linguistics: -language is not an autonomous cognitive faculty -grammar is conceptualization -knowledge of language emerges from language use
I. Language is not an autonomous cognitive faculty The processes of speaking and understanding language are not different from other cognitive tasks such as visual perception, reasoning, motor activity. - Memory is involved in the organization of linguistic knowledge into categories. - Attention is involved in activation of conceptual structures - Judgment /comparison is involved in the process of categorization
Language is not an autonomous cognitive faculty The act of Categorization is mental process of classification; its products are the cognitive categories. - Applying a word, morpheme or construction to a particular experience to be communicated, it involves comparison of the prior experience, judging it to belong to the class of prior experiences to which the linguistic expression has been applied (W. Croft & D. A. Cruse, 2004).
Language is not an autonomous cognitive faculty Categories of animals, plants, man-made objects. . . Birds: parrot, sparrow, canary, hawk, ostrich, penguin… …the best example – is a prototype (E. Rosch, 1972) Furniture? Chair? Vehicle? Fruit? . . . Levels of categorization: …animal-dog-spaniel… Are categories universal or culture-specific? “fuzzy category boundaries”
Linguistic knowledge is conceptual structure Conceptual structure is a single level of mental representation at which linguistic, sensory and motor information are compatible (R. Jackendoff, 1985). Concept is a unit of meaning (Langacker, 1987); it is not equivalent with the meaning of words: color vs. political parties, cup vs. trophy, chair (furniture) vs. position…
Other terms Frame – any system of concepts related in such a way that to understand any one of them you have to understand the whole structure in which it fits (C. Fillmore, 1982). Domain is a semantic structure that functions as the base for at least one concept (W. Croft & D. A. Cruse, 2004). Domain TRADE includes the concepts of CUSTOMER, MONEY, SHOP ASSISTANT…
II. Grammar is conceptualization This slogan refers to a hypothesis that conceptual structure can not be reduced to a simple truthconditional correspondence with the world. A major aspect of human cognitive ability is the conceptualization of the experience to be communicated
Conceptual metaphor Figure of speech: “Juliet is the sun” (Shakespeare); Conventional metaphor: head of state, eye of a potato Conceptual metaphor: Try to pack more thoughts into fewer words Her anger boiled over. How do you spend your time? He knows where he is going in life.
Conceptual metaphor - Involves a relationship between a SOURCE DOMAIN, the source of the literal meaning of the metaphorical expression, and a TARGET DOMAIN, the domain of the experience actually being described by the metaphor: Pack thoughts into words – WORDS (target domain) ARE CONTAINERS (source domain) Anger boiled over – EMOTION/ANGER (target domain) IS HOT FLUID (IN A CONTAINER) (source domain) Spend time – TIME (target domain) IS MONEY (source domain) Life is going – LIFE (target domain) IS JOURNEY (source domain)
Other examples - She trembled in fear. - He went white in anger. IN - He jumped back in terror. EMOTIONAL STATES ARE CONTAINERS Russian: Ona drozhala v strahe /ot straha = out of fear. On pobelel ot zlosti = out of anger. Ot=out of On otprygnul v uzhase / ot uzhasa =out of terror. v
Other examples - He exploded with laughter. with - She trembled with fear. ATTENDANT EMOTION/EMOTION IS A COMPANION Russian: - On razrazilsa smechom. -om is instrumental case =with - Ona trozhala v strache / ot stracha.
Conceptual Metonymy - Involves a relation of contiguity (nearness, neighborhood) between what is denoted by the literal meaning of a word and its figurative counterpart. WHOLE FOR PART: to fill up the car PRODUCER FOR PRODUCT: buy a Ford PLACE FOR INSTITUTION: talks between Moscow and Berlin MATERIAL FOR OBJECT: a glass, an iron
Other examples - She heard the piano (INSTRUMENT STANDS FOR SOUND) - That french fries is getting impatient (ORDER STANDS FOR CUSTOMER) - There a lot of good heads in the University (HEAD STANDS FOR INTELLEGENCE) - We need a couple of strong bodies in our team (BODY STANDS FOR PHYSICAL STRENGTH) - Don’t get hot under the collar (INCREASE IN BODE TEMPERATURE STANDS FOR EMOTION/ANGER)
III. Knowledge of language emerges from language use Categories and structures in semantics, syntax, morphology and phonology are build up from our cognition of specific utterances on specific occasion of use. Usage-based model (Langacker, 1987, Barlow & Kemmer, 2000, Bybee & Hopper, 2004) 1. The frequency of the occurrence of particular grammatical forms and structures; 2. The meaning of the words and constructions in use.
Conclusion 1. 2. 3. What the words of a given language mean and how they can be used in combinations depends on the perception and categorization of the real world around us. Conceptualization can be found on all the levels of a language. The rate of learning and generalization is influenced by the frequency of the constructions in the input.
References 1. Ungerer F. , Schmidt H. -J. An Introduction to Cognitive Linguistics. Longman, 1996. 2. Croft. W. , Cruse D. A. Cognitive Linguistics. Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics. Cambridge University Press, 2004. 3. Jackendoff R. Semantics and Cognition. The MIT Press, 1984.