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In linguistics and cognitive science, cognitive linguistics (CL) refers to the currently dominant school of linguistics that views the important essence of language as innately based in evolutionarily-developed and speciated faculties, and seeks explanations that advance or fit well into the current understandings of the human mind.
The guiding principle behind this area of linguistics is that language creation, learning, and usage must be explained by reference to concepts in regard to human cognition in general —the basic underlying mental processes that apply not only to language, but to all other areas of human intelligence.
Areas of study
Cognitive linguistics is divided into two main areas of study, which are currently being reunified, as linguists have grown to understand their mutual interdependence:
- cognitive semantics, dealing mainly with lexical semantics
- cognitive approaches to grammar, dealing mainly with syntax, morphology and other traditionally more grammar-oriented areas.
Aspects of cognition that are of interest to cognitive linguists include:
- Construction grammar and cognitive grammar.
- Conceptual metaphor and conceptual blending.
- Conceptual organization: Categorization, Metonymy, Image schemas, Frame semantics, Iconicity, and Force Dynamics.
- Construal and Subjectivity.
- Gesture and sign language.
- Linguistic relativism.
- Cognitive neuroscience.
Related work that interfaces with many of the above themes:
- Computational models of metaphor and language acquisition.
- Psycholinguistics research.
- 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, seek 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.
- The Center for the Cognitive Science of Metaphor Online is a collection of numerous formative articles in the fields of conceptual metaphor and conceptual integration.
- 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.
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