Culture, Cognition, Discourse and Grammar

Cognitive Considerations on Formulaic Language

by Bożena Duda (Volume editor) Robert Kiełtyka (Volume editor) Ewa Konieczna (Volume editor)
©2019 Edited Collection 268 Pages


This book is a collection of papers pertaining to some of the current problems of language description couched in terms of recent advances of the theory of Cognitive Linguistics. The analyses conducted by the authors examine the interrelation between culture, discourse, grammar and cognition, with a particular focus placed on the nature and role of formulaic language.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Copyright Page
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • Citability of the eBook
  • Contents
  • List of contributors
  • Introduction
  • References
  • Metaphor and Metonymy
  • Idioms of money – in a new light
  • 1 Introduction: How do we conceptualize money?
  • 1.1 The LIQUID system of money metaphors
  • 1.2 Image schema level
  • 1.3 Domain level
  • 1.4 Frame level
  • 1.5 Mental spaces level
  • 1.5.1 Throw money about (by the fistful)
  • 1.5.2 Money slips through somebody’s fingers
  • 1.5.3 Cash cow
  • 2 Conclusions
  • To bridle one’s tongue and ujarzmić namiętności – some remarks on the figurative use of lexis naming elements of equine harness in English and Polish
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 The analysis
  • 3 Conclusions
  • Linguistic Worldview
  • In search of prototypical stereotypes and stereotypical prototypes
  • 1 Prototype
  • 2 Stereotype
  • 3 Prototype and stereotype
  • 4 Prototype vs. stereotype
  • 5 Prototype and stereotype revisited
  • 6 Conclusions
  • The conceptualisation of a nation: Poland through the eyes of the British press in September 1939
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Results
  • 3. Discussion
  • 4 Conclusions
  • Culture and Cognition
  • Anti-culture talk in focus: On the nature of prison slang
  • 1 Introducing penology literature
  • 2 Prison slang as the language of anti-culture
  • 3 The main features of prison slang
  • 4 Conclusions
  • Body and Mind: Comparative research on mentalistic conceptualizations in Poland and China1
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 General line of investigation and the present objective
  • 3 Dualism in the Western tradition
  • 4 Philosophical approach. Xin – the heart-mind in early Confucian Daoist philosophy
  • 5 Linguistic analysis
  • 6 Folk psychology and the questionnaire study
  • 7 Conclusions
  • Formulaic Language, Grammar, Discourse and Cognition
  • The symbolic pregnance of linguistic units. From syntactic patterns of fixed phrases to formulaic language use
  • 1 Ernst Cassirer’s Philosophy of Symbolic Forms
  • 2 Merlin Donald’s theory of mind and culture
  • 3 Idioms in Generative Grammar: Syntactic constituency and semantic non-compositionality
  • 4 Idioms in Cognitive Linguistics: Degrees of compositionality
  • 5 Grounding the symbolic form: The (extended) NetWord program
  • 6 Conclusions
  • Interpretation of formulaic language by L2 Speakers of English based on phonological coherence
  • 1 Research on formulaic language
  • 2 Functions of FormL
  • 3 Phonological coherence
  • 4 Material
  • 5 Experiment 1
  • 5.1 Methods
  • 5.2 Results
  • 5.2.1 Tonal alignments
  • 5.2.2 Pitch, intensity, pauses
  • 5.2.3 Discussion
  • 6 Experiment 2: Perception test
  • 6.1 Methods and material
  • 6.2 Participants
  • 6.3 Results and discussion
  • 7 Prosody evaluation and formulaicity
  • Appendix 1
  • Structure and meaning in formulaic language: Re-composing animal-based idiomatic expressions in English and Serbian1
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Theoretical framework and previous research
  • 3 Idiomatic expressions based on animal names
  • 4 Results and discussion
  • 4.1 Variation pattern: Key lexeme repetition
  • 4.2 Variation pattern: Lexical substitution
  • 4.3 Variation pattern: Vehicle replacement
  • 4.4 Variation pattern: Structural expansion
  • 4.5 Variation pattern: Element deletion
  • 5 Conclusions
  • “There’s + plural noun”: Non-standard grammar or formulaic language?
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 A case study
  • 2.1 Research methodology
  • 2.1.1 Research objectives
  • 2.1.2 Target corpus
  • 2.1.3 Research plan
  • 2.2 Findings
  • 2.3 Summary of results
  • 3 Discussion and implications of the study
  • 3.1 Functional characteristics of “There’s many”
  • 3.2 Structural characteristics
  • 4 Conclusions
  • Funding acknowledgement
  • Meanings and functions of mental clauses in panel and blog discussions
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Theoretical framework and previous studies
  • 3 Methodology and data
  • 4 Analysis
  • 4.1 Raw quantitative results
  • 4.2 Qualificational vs. non-qualificational uses
  • 4.3 Evidentiality
  • 4.4 Performative vs. ascriptive cases
  • 4.5 Information structure
  • 4.6 Discourse strategy
  • 5 Conclusions
  • Conceptual contradiction in thought and communication (the cases of accidentally on purpose and almost exactly)
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Theoretical framework of blending analysis
  • 3 The case of accidentally on purpose
  • 4 The case of almost exactly
  • 5 Conversational contribution of the contradictory expressions analysed
  • 6 Conclusions
  • Trigger warnings in a cultural-cognitive linguistic perspective
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Trauma and PTSD
  • 3 The data
  • 4 Trigger warnings: What is meant by ‘triggering’?
  • 4.1 Triggering: An image schema analysis
  • 4.2 Triggering the mind
  • 5 Trigger warning: Effects and implications of formulaic language
  • 5.1 [noun]-Warnings
  • 6 The politics of trigger warnings
  • 7 The efficacy of trigger warnings: A cultural schematic analysis
  • 8 Conclusions
  • Formulaic thought and expression in linguistic politeness1
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Preliminaries
  • 3 (Non-)Compositionality in (im)politeness formulae
  • 4 Closed sub-categories
  • 5 Conclusions
  • Acknowledgement
  • Appendix 1: Examples of politeness formulae listed by expression type


Edited by

Robert Kiełtyka and Agnieszka Uberman

Advisory Board:

Réka Benczes (Budapest, Hungary)

Zoltán Kövecses (Budapest, Hungary)

Anna Malicka-Kleparska (Lublin, Poland)

Sándor Martsa (Pécs, Hungary)

Rafał Molencki (Katowice, Poland)

Tadeusz Rachwał (Warsaw, Poland)

Elżbieta Rokosz-Piejko (Rzeszów, Poland)

Slávka Tomaščíková (Košice, Slovakia)


Notes on the quality assurance and peer review of this publication

Prior to publication, the quality of the work published in this series is reviewed by the editors and members of Advisory Board of the series.

List of contributors

Magdaléna Bilá

University of Prešov, Slovakia


Anna Ciechanowska

State Higher School of Technology and Economics in Jarosław, Poland


Gabriela Gumanová

University of Prešov, Slovakia


Arkadiusz Gut

The John Paul II Catholic University, Lublin, Poland


Joanna Hryniewska

SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Warszawa, Poland


Vladimir Ž. Jovanović

University of Niš, Serbia


Alena Kačmárová

University of Prešov, Slovakia


Henryk Kardela

Maria Curie-Sklodowska University, Lublin, Poland


Robert Kiełtyka

University of Rzeszów, Poland


Grzegorz A. Kleparski

University of Rzeszów, Poland


Zoltán Kövecses

Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary


Marcin Kudła

University of Rzeszów, Poland


Robert Mirski

The John Paul II Catholic University, Lublin, Poland


Katarzyna Pejda

The John Paul II Catholic University, Lublin, Poland


Dorota Ewa Pierścińska

University of Łódź, Poland


Katarzyna Rudkiewicz

University of Szczecin, Poland


Penelope Jane Scott

Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, China


Nastazja Stoch

The John Paul II Catholic University, Lublin, Poland


Donald Trinder

University of Rzeszów, Poland


Carl Vogel

Trinity College Dublin, Ireland


Bożena Duda, Robert Kiełtyka and Ewa Konieczna


One of the central claims of Cognitive Linguistics is that meaning construction is conceptual in nature, which should be taken to mean that language constitutes a reflection of the human conceptual system. Thus, as proposed by Langacker (1987) lexical items do not have an inherent meaning, but they prompt for highly sophisticated conceptualisations. According to Langacker (1987:155), “linguistic expressions are not meaningful in and of themselves, but only through the access they afford to different stores of knowledge that allow us to make sense of them.” This view, known as encyclopaedic view of meaning regards words as “points of access” (ibid.) to a vast body of knowledge relating to a specific conceptual entity. Thus, semantic structure is considered to be conventionalised conceptual structure (Langacker 1991).

When viewed from this perspective, the human conceptual system constitutes the primary focus of interest for cognitive linguists. Consequently, one of the main areas of research is the emergence of abstract concepts in the course of interaction with the spatio-physical world. This empiricist view of human cognition, initiated by the ground-breaking work of Merleu-Ponty (1962, 1963), proclaims that cognition is embodied and pre-conceptual in nature. As proposed by Johnson (1987), human embodied experience can assume the form of image schemas, such as CONTACT, CONTAINMENT, BALANCE, etc., which are grounded in human pre-conceptual experience. These basic embodied concepts can be metaphorically, or metonymically, extended to refer to non-spatial relationships.

Another important foundation on which the conceptual system is based, and which is reflected in the language, is a set of cultural beliefs shared by language users. In his seminal book, devoted to, among other things, the system of noun classification in Dyirbal, Lakoff (1987) revealed that linguistic categorization may be based not only on the relationship of similarity to the prototype but also on cultural values. Beyond any doubt, there are far more instances of cultural cognition, such as conceptualisation of emotions, or categorization of kinship terms, to mention but a few (Kövecses 2015, Putz et al. 1996).

Besides, Cognitive Linguistics is concerned with the study of natural language processing, capable of offering insight into the way in which human mind operates. Consequently, the phenomenon of formulaic language is of great interest to cognitive linguists as it raises the question about the nature of its processing. Apart from the fact that formulaic language plays an important role in language production and acquisition, it also reflects cultural and social values, which makes it a stimulating and inspiring object of study.

As observed by Siyanova-Chanturia (2015), formulaic language may include, among others, collocations, binomials, multi-word verbs, idioms, speech formulae, discourse markers, lexical bundles, expletives and grammatical constructions. The importance of formulaic language stems from the fact that it constitutes a considerable proportion of authentic discourse. It is estimated by, among others, Biber et al. (1999) and Erman and Warren (2000) that between 20% and 50% of language one is faced with on a daily basis can be referred to as formulaic. Siyanova-Chanturia (2015:286) emphasises the fact that a definition of a formulaic sequence which is frequently quoted in the literature of the subject is that of Wray (2002), according to whom, it is:

[…] a sequence, continuous or discontinuous, of words or other elements, which is, or appears to be, prefabricated: that is, stored and retrieved whole from memory at the time of use, rather than being subject to generation or analysis by the language grammar (Wray 2002: 9).

However, as Siyanova-Chanturia (2015) argues, the holistic nature and processing of formulaic expressions should by no means be taken for granted since there is considerable psycholinguistic evidence “against the proposition that formulaic sequences are stored as unanalysed wholes, or that they behave akin to a single morpheme” (Siyanova-Chanturia 2015:296–297).

Thus, the main assumption underlying the monographic study entitled Culture, Cognition, Discourse and Grammar: Cognitive Considerations on Formulaic Language is that language is part of human cognition. The present volume is a collection of chapters pertaining to various problems of (formulaic) language description couched in terms of recent advances of the theory of Cognitive Linguistics. It comprises fourteen chapters, organised into four parts.

Part I, “Metaphor and metonymy”, consists of two chapters devoted to various aspects of the working of these two mechanisms both in human thought and language. The opening one, written by Zoltán Kövecses, throws a new light on idioms of money and presents an approach (see also Kövecses 2017) which completely departs from traditional accounts of money idioms proposed within cognitive semantics (see, e.g., Lakoff 1987, Gibbs 1994, Kövecses and Szabó 1996). The author utilizes the idea of a multi-level view of metaphor in which the conceptual metaphors that are the basis for particular idiomatic expressions can be placed at various levels of schematicity: from the image schema level, through domain level, frame level up to the level of mental spaces. Among other things, the account proposed makes it evident that in order to be able to understand particular idiomatic expressions and to look for conceptual motivation behind the whole metaphorical system, that is the discussed in the paper (MOVING) LIQUID system in the metaphorical conceptualization of money, one must inevitably reach the basic image-schematic level of analysis.

In his contribution, Robert Kiełtyka undertakes the analysis of selected language material from the source domain of equine harness whose elements are conceptually mapped onto some corresponding elements of the domain of human being. Couched in terms of the conceptual metaphor and metonymy theory (see, among others, Lakoff and Johnson 1980, Lakoff 1987, Kövecses and Radden 1998, Radden and Kövecses 1999 and Kövecses 2002) as well as metaphtonymy in the sense of Goossens (1990), the research carried out by the author shows that as far as the relationship between the world of people and animals is concerned, the mechanisms of metaphor and metonymy are not only involved, but one frequently necessitates and conditions the working of the other. The analysis suggests that names of elements of equine harness form the basis for numerous zoosemic developments (see the concept of zoosemy as discussed in, for example, Kiełtyka 2008, 2016) not only in English and Polish, but also in other Indo-European languages such as, for example, Slovak and Ugro-Finnic languages such as, for example, Hungarian.

Part II entitled “Linguistic worldview” also contains two chapters. One of them is written by Marcin Kudła who presents an overview of the concepts of prototype and stereotype in terms the theory of Cognitive Linguistics (see, for example, Geeraerts 1989, 2010, Kleiber 1990, Taylor 1992 and Ungerer and Schmid 1996). The chapter is an attempt to approach and review the relevant literature on the subject and to offer a balanced interpretation of the two targeted notions. The research conducted shows that drawing on Lakoff’s (1987:79) view of stereotypes which seem to represent the member for category metonymy, the author proposes an interpretation according to which a stereotype is a prototype seen as a representation of the whole category. In other words, the real difference between the two concepts is that in stereotypes one subcategory is metonymically extended over the whole category, virtually eliminating intra-category diversity. Conversely, as argued by the author, the prototype of a category is more salient than its periphery, yet the existence of the latter is nevertheless acknowledged.

In turn, taking into account the methodology and assumptions of Critical Discourse Analysis (Fairclough 2001; Barry, Carroll and Hansen 2006), the chapter “The conceptualisation of a nation: Poland through the eyes of the British press in September 1939”, authored by Donald Trinder, is an attempt to disclose the mechanisms responsible for the process of conceptualisation of the Polish nation by the English reader of the Daily Express, Britain’s leading newspaper of the 1930’s. Based on dictionaries of contemporary English, the research conducted by the author focuses on the language of the articles covering Poland, which is subject to semantic analysis in order to identify any meta-textual messages implicit in the language choice. Among the main findings made, one can mention the fact that in September 1939 Poland was depicted by the British press as an impoverished nation with highly aggressive tendencies towards its neighbours. It is convincingly argued that over a very short space of time a clear and powerful narrative was constructed by the Daily Express, which can have had no other effect than to persuade the reader that Poland was not a country worth fighting for.

Anna Ciechanowska and Grzegorz A. Kleparski in their “Anti-culture talk in focus: On the nature of prison slang” open up Part III of the volume “Culture and Cognition”. The authors pursue the problem of anti-culture and one of its products, that is anti-language (see, for example, Halliday 1976, 1978 and much more recently Chruszczewski 2011). Specifically, the chapter is an attempt to delve into the nature of prison slang viewed as anti-language and to review its major traits and characteristics. It presents an overview of penology literature whose aim is to bring to light the social, psychological and linguistic complexity of the language of prisoners and its main features. Among the points raised in the chapter one may find the mechanisms leading to prison anti-language vocabulary enrichment, but also the fact that existing prison-specific words are frequently ascribed new meanings, while many other vocabulary items undergo phonetic, orthographic and grammatical changes.

Another chapter, belonging to this thematic section, entitled “Body and mind: Comparative research on mentalistic conceptualisations in Poland and China” authored by Arkadiusz Gut, Joanna Hryniewska, Katarzyna Pejda, Robert Mirski and Nastazja Stoch is devoted to the influence of cultural factors on social cognition (Kitayama and Cohen 2010). The authors argue that while mind and body are conceptualised as two distinct entities in the Polish language, which stems from the Western dualistic philosophical tradition, in Chinese these two concepts are represented holistically.

Part IV “Formulaic language, grammar, discourse and cognition” contains eight chapters. It opens with a contribution entitled “The symbolic pregnance of linguistic units. From syntactic patterns of fixed phrases to formulaic language use” by Henryk Kardela. The text is based on Cassirer’s (1933/1955) philosophy of symbolic forms and it focuses on the rise in the degree of symbolisation of linguistic expression, including instances of formulaic language, which is brought about by the increasing amount of facts, referring to specific expressions that a given theory “uncovers.” As a result, the degree of signifier-signified detachment becomes so substantial that the unit acquires symbolic potentiality, i.e. symbolic pregnance.

In another contribution, belonging to this section, Magdaléná Bilá and Gabriela Gumanová focus on the interpretation of formulaic language by Slovak speakers of English (at various levels) based on phonological coherence (Lin 2010), which is understood as intonational, temporal, rhythmic, phonemic and stress aspects of a particular utterance. The aim of the study is to investigate the correlation between the level of proficiency in English and sensitivity to the selected manifestations of phonological coherence, as demonstrated by L2 speakers, taking part in the experiment.

The chapter written by Vladimir Ž. Jovanovič constitutes an attempt at the contrastive analysis of animal-based idioms in English and Serbian. Being primarily concerned with establishing patterns of idiom variation, it reveals that different types of formal expansion, repetition of metaphorisation vehicles and lexical replacement are most frequently relied on. Another line of research, pursued by the author is investigation of the influence of cultural context (Alousque 2009) on both the patterns of idiom variation and their frequency.

In her chapter Alena Kačmárová presents a corpus-based study of the existential clause “there’s” combined with a plural noun, in which the copular verb should, by definition, be in concord with the notional subject. However, as the author points out, anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that the combination of “there’s” and plural noun is generally accepted. Hence, the focal question of this chapter is whether this contracted non-corresponding structure is an instance of bad grammar, incorrect structure, nonstandard usage or true manifestation of current linguistic behaviour (see, for example, Sinclair 1991, Erman and Warren 2000). The analysis conducted in the case study was based on the corpus of neutral or informal speech-like productions (www.lycos.com) and has shown that the existential clause “there’s” combined with a plural noun should be treated as a prefab, that is a unit of formulaic language.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2019 (February)
Semantics Lexicology Cognitive linguistics Sociolinguistics Conceptualisations Idiomaticity
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2019. 265 pp., 33 fig. b/w, 21 tables, 1 graph

Biographical notes

Bożena Duda (Volume editor) Robert Kiełtyka (Volume editor) Ewa Konieczna (Volume editor)

Bożena Duda is assistant professor at the Institute of English Studies, University of Rzeszów (Poland). Her main research interests include (historical) sociolinguistics and cognitive semantics. Robert Kiełtyka is associate professor at the Institute of English Studies, University of Rzeszów (Poland). His main research interests include diachronic semantics, cognitive linguistics and morphology-semantics interface. Ewa Konieczna is assistant professor at the Institute of English Studies, University of Rzeszów (Poland). Her main research interests include morphological polysemy, embodied cognition in language and innovative word formation processes.


Title: Culture, Cognition, Discourse and Grammar
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
book preview page numper 8
book preview page numper 9
book preview page numper 10
book preview page numper 11
book preview page numper 12
book preview page numper 13
book preview page numper 14
book preview page numper 15
book preview page numper 16
book preview page numper 17
book preview page numper 18
book preview page numper 19
book preview page numper 20
book preview page numper 21
book preview page numper 22
book preview page numper 23
book preview page numper 24
book preview page numper 25
book preview page numper 26
book preview page numper 27
book preview page numper 28
book preview page numper 29
book preview page numper 30
book preview page numper 31
book preview page numper 32
book preview page numper 33
book preview page numper 34
book preview page numper 35
book preview page numper 36
book preview page numper 37
book preview page numper 38
book preview page numper 39
book preview page numper 40
269 pages