Cognitive Linguistics in the Year 2017

by Marcin Grygiel (Volume editor) Robert Kiełtyka (Volume editor)
Edited Collection 248 Pages


This book is a collection of chapters 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 revolve around issues belonging to the scope of, among others, discourse analysis, figurative language use, metaphorisation and metonymisation processes, as well as various approaches to grammatical constructions.

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Copyright Page
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • Citability of the eBook
  • Contents
  • List of Contributors
  • Introduction: Psychological, cultural and social dimensions of Cognitive Linguistics
  • Complex concept of DUMA (‘pride’) in Polish – from a lexicographic approach to discourse analysis
  • Figurative language employing components of the frame of DEATH
  • Standard business metaphors – in search for metaphorical patterns employed in English and Polish (parallel) sets of subject expressions
  • Domestic animals and feudal order as source domains of deliberate metaphors in Polish public discourse
  • The juxtaposition of Chaucer’s and PDE epistemic scenes of discourse organization
  • Indo-European *steh2 – between etymology and cognition
  • The case of πάννυχος Ζεὺς: An explanation of cognitive nature
  • “A scar that burns and yet makes you stronger.” How mothers conceptualize the loss of a child
  • A cognitive model of verbal aggression
  • Possession in Classic Mayan
  • On the scope of indexical-metonymic motivation in the languages of the deaf
  • For vs. during: Similar schemas – dissimilar senses?
  • Comparing and contrasting Polish with Hungarian co-verbial constructions
  • An implicit experiencer in the perceptual constructions in English and Japanese
  • A narrator’s role in direct speech in English
  • An account for the constraint on the distribution of predicates in a subordinate clause in a Japanese conditional construction
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables

List of Contributors

Aneta Dłutek

The State University of Applied Sciences in Płock

Valentina Gasbarra

Sapienza University of Rome

Ewa Gieroń-Czepczor

State Higher Vocational School in Racibórz

Marcin Grygiel

University of Rzeszów

Agnieszka Hamann

Faculty of Artes Liberales, University of Warsaw

Hiromasa Itagaki

Osaka University

Robert Kiełtyka

University of Rzeszów

Naoki Kiyama

University of Kitakyushu

Krzysztof Kosecki

University of Łódź

Łukasz Matusz

The University of Silesia

Kamila Midor

Jagiellonian University

Agnieszka Mikołajczuk

University of Warsaw

Marianna Pozza

Sapienza University of Rome

Katarzyna Rudkiewicz

University of Szczecin

Yoshitaka Seto

Osaka University

Agnieszka Uberman

University of Rzeszów

Agnieszka Wawrzyniak

Adam Mickiewicz University, Kalisz

Marcin Grygiel and Robert Kiełtyka

Introduction: Psychological, cultural and social dimensions of Cognitive Linguistics

This volume is a state-of-the-art display of current thinking on Cognitive Linguistics – a multidisciplinary area of research that explores the relationship between language and cognition, elaborating on key theoretical and analytical notions of conceptual metaphor, metonymy, conceptual blending, image schema, conceptualization – to mention just a few of its most fundamental pillars. The contributions selected for the book present a set of compelling essays collectively making a persuasive case for why a cognitive linguistics perspective is fast becoming a leading theoretical framework for investigating various aspects of language. Each essay provides a unique vantage on usage-based approach to language analysis and focuses on meaning with its multiple extensions. In the following, we will argue that cognitive linguistics is the most suitable framework for such studies as it views language as a multifaceted phenomenon that has psychological, cognitive, cultural and social dimensions.

In the history of linguistic investigation, inquiries into the nature of meaning have taken different forms. In structural and generative linguistics the dominating tendency is to separate meaning as an independent component and to formalize it using mathematical and logical models. For example, the basic claims of traditional truth-conditional semantics are that the semantic interpretation of a sentence is connected to the truth of that sentence in a situation, and that the meaning of the sentence is derived compositionally from the semantic values meaning of its constituents and the rules that combine them (Gutzman et al. 2014). The cognitive linguistic research, on the other hand, has its predecessors in the pre-structuralist nineteenth century thinking about language where meaning is perceived as an integral part of other areas – such as culture, literature and psychology.

Michel Bréal (1832–1915), for instance, favoured the psychological orientation in semantics and claimed that linguistic meaning is a psychological phenomenon which involves mental processes (Grygiel and Kleparski 2007). Similarly, meanings of lexical items were considered to be psychological entities. Moreover, Bréal stressed the overriding importance of semantics in the linguistic hierarchy to which phonetics should be subordinated. The psychological tradition in philological studies, initiated by Moritz Lazarus (1824–1903) and ←9 | 10→Heymann Steinthal (1823–1899) put a great deal of emphasis on the claim that language reflects first and foremost our world of representations.

One of the achievements of the historical-philological tradition prevailing in the nineteenth century was the distinction between the usual and occasional meanings, attention to semantic variability and the introduction of the notion of context. Even though most of the work in historical-philological semantics has become inaccessible to a contemporary international audience, the role of this tradition can hardly be underestimated in the development of cognitive linguistics (Geeraerts 2010).

Cognitive Linguistics draws our attention to the psychological foundations of language. More specifically, cognitive linguists take the view that linguistic structure is motivated by conceptual representation and communicative function, thereby placing the representational function of language at the centre of its concerns (Sinha 2010). Furthermore, the perception of space and physical objects is claimed to be most relevant to the analysis of linguistic categories. Mental processes play the decisive role in the shaping of language data as they segment the reality into more manageable units and control our senses. Space perception – the main source of conceptual structure – rests on the sense of vision, but other senses also find their reflection in the linguistic representation.

The way we as humans are able to recognize objects and events in the world around us, the way we interact with the surrounding environment and the way we orient ourselves in space and time is often referred to as cognition. The relationship between language and cognition is a central research focus in cognitive linguistics. Although the linguistic interest in the mind mechanisms of language was initiated by Chomsky, Generative Grammar postulated the separation of language and cognition. Chomsky emphasized the importance of syntax and believed that language learning is independent of cognition, at the same time advocating the idea of inborn or innate language mechanisms called nativism. In Cognitive Linguistics, in turn, Chomsky’s idea about a special module in the mind devoted to language and the separation between language and cognition was rejected. From the Cognitive Linguistics perspective, language is claimed to form an integral part of human cognition.

Cognitive Linguistics works from the premise that meaning is embodied. This boils down to the assumption that meaning is grounded in the shared human experience of bodily existence. It also emphasizes the centrality of the human body in the perception of the world around us. Human bodies give us an experiential basis for understanding a wealth of concepts (often called image schemas in cognitive linguistics), such as IN vs. OUT, UP vs. DOWN, NEAR vs. FAR, COUNT vs. MASS, FIGURE vs. GROUND, BALANCE, and SOURCE-PATH-GOAL ←10 | 11→(Janda 2010). Conceived of as the pre-linguistic, dynamic and highly schematic gestalts arising directly from motor movement, object manipulation, and perceptual interaction, image schemas anchor abstract reasoning and imagination. They also give rise to conceptual metaphors.

The idea of embodied cognition implies that the properties of certain categories, or even the categories themselves, are a consequence of the nature of human biological capacities and of the experience of functioning in a physical and social environment. Lakoff (1987:265) claims that “conceptual structure is meaningful because it is embodied, that is, it arises from, and is tied to, our preconceptual bodily experience. In short, conceptual structure exists and is understood because preconceptual structures exist and are understood. Conceptual structure takes its form in part from the nature of preconceptual structures.”

A bulk of Cognitive Linguistic research has been devoted to elucidating conceptual structure and cognitive abilities as they are seen to apply to language and as they can be inferred from the linguistic data. A major aspect of human cognitive ability is the conceptualization of the experience and the reality around us by means of the linguistic form and also the conceptualization of the linguistic knowledge we possess. Cognitive capacities that play a fundamental role in the organization of language include conceptual metaphor, analogy, recursion, viewpoint, perspective, figure-ground organization and conceptual integration (Fauconnier and Turner 2002). To put it differently, cognitive linguistics goes beyond the visible structure of language and investigates the considerably more complex backstage operations of cognition that create grammar, conceptualization, discourse, and thought itself.

Language accumulates cultural wisdom, but at the same time culture cannot exist without language. Language shapes and is shaped not only by cognition, but by culture as well. For a cognitive linguist, language and culture are inseparable. Cultural concepts are embedded in language, and the architecture of each language contains culturally-specific features. These include both lexical and grammatical characteristics. Ronald Langacker maintains that “the advent of cognitive linguistics can be heralded as a return to cultural linguistics. Cognitive linguistic theories recognize cultural knowledge as the foundation not just of lexicon, but central facets of grammar as well” (Langacker 1994:31).

Cognitive Linguistics is a usage-based model. Throughout the twentieth century, structuralist and generative linguists have argued that the study of the language system (langue, competence) must be separated from the study of language use (parole, performance), but this view of language has been called into question. Language is an instrument of communication and it cannot be separated from its social functions. Employing the usage-based model means ←11 | 12→that authentic language use, in all its complexity, must be the basis of linguistic research. This claim opens the door for a vast variety of real subjects, registers, dialects, specialist languages and quantitative corpus-driven methodologies. Consequently, more and more studies now turn to corpora as a source of data.

To sum up, Cognitive Linguistics is well-suited to research on a variety of linguistic subjects. This claim is also proved by the scope and variety of the subject matter of the following chapters in this volume. Furthermore, the cognitive paradigm offers a number of advantages over some other linguistic frameworks, particularly in relation to the range of language phenomena it can address and in relation to researchers’ need to communicate their results. We strongly believe that research presented in this volume can be easily made accessible to wider audiences. Analogically, the subject matter of many of the contributions suggests that they can be very useful in a number of applied fields such as pedagogy or translation. We should not forget, however, that neither cognitive linguistics nor any other framework is entirely comprehensive and gives full answers to all possible problems. This is simply impossible.

The present volume comprises sixteen chapters pertaining to various problems of language description couched in terms of recent advances of the theory of Cognitive Linguistics. The opening chapter by Agnieszka Mikołajczuk titled “Complex concept of DUMA (‘pride’) in Polish – from a lexicographic approach to discourse analysis” is an attempt at reconstructing the complex concept of DUMA ‘pride’ in Polish. The author starts her considerations from justification for the research and literature overview claiming that pride is one of the emotions that recently seems to gain currency in Poland. Having delineated methodological background and sources of data, Agnieszka Mikołajczuk proceeds to lexicographic and discourse analysis of selected text samples excerpted from Polish newspapers. The results of the research conducted show that the analysed samples of newspaper texts illustrate the activation of all basic models of DUMA ‘pride’, that is reactive, dignified and hubristic, with the last two being far more productive than the first one. One of the main conclusions the author arrives at is that the way in which the concept in hand is depicted in the press departs considerably from its portrayal in lexicographic sources especially as far as potential and obligatory variants of PRIDE are concerned.

In her contribution, Agnieszka Uberman discusses some issues pertaining to the frame of DEATH. The chapter is an attempt to present the metaphor of death and the figurative expressions in which the elements of the frame in hand are targeted. Having introduced some theoretical perspectives on death in metaphor, the author analyses such elements of the frame of DEATH as grave, funeral, undertaker and coffin. The examples excerpted from funeralese and investigated ←12 | 13→in the chapter exemplify the classical metaphors related to death, where it is portrayed, among others, as an inevitable end, the end of a journey (DEATH IS THE END OF A JOURNEY), a stage of a journey or transition to a different mode of existence (DEATH IS ARRIVING AT THE DESTINATION).

The contribution by Aneta Dłutek focuses on standard business metaphors in English and Polish. Specifically, the author examines some potentially parallel metaphorical patterns present in the analysed languages. First, the concept of metaphor is defined as a human linguistic tool, and then its place and importance in business language is emphasized, which is followed by a detailed analysis of (selected) metaphors in business English and their Polish equivalents. Being set within the framework of Conceptual Metaphor Theory, the chapter offers a discussion and examination of metaphorical expressions extracted from three lexical areas, that is economics, management and legal language and its aim is to identify mappings employed to conceptualize particular ideas in both English and Polish and to search for potentially similar metaphorical patterns. One of the important conclusions emerging from the contrastive English-Polish analysis is that a number of analysed phrases are considered to be equivalents, though the metaphorical mappings that can be established are definitely culture dependent and hence different for English and for Polish.

The chapter by Ewa Gieroń-Czepczor is another insightful contribution to the research into Polish public discourse. It starts from a few comments on language and social cognition followed by the discussion of the impact of metaphor on discourse and a detailed analysis of selected animal metaphors used in the language of politics. The author supports her findings with a number of citations which indicate the potential of the farm animals domain used in order to disparage opponents regardless of the demands of verbal etiquette. One of the conclusions emerging from the research is the claim that the choices within the rural life domain, specifically the workings of the traditional rural community and its members, reveal a shared perception of social and institutional hierarchies.

Agnieszka Wawrzyniak in her “The juxtaposition of Chaucer’s and PDE epistemic scenes of discourse organization” conducts a comparative analysis of medieval and Present Day English ways of organizing the discourse with special reference to cultural conditionings. In the body of the chapter the author analyses the semantics of the lexemes that codify the concept of truth in PDE and mediaeval phrases asserting viewpoints in order to bring to the fore distinct cultures and worldviews. The results of the research conducted show that the mediaeval society in a natural and somewhat automatic way opted for expressions that codified truth in initiating and maintaining the conversation. In contradistinction, the contemporary English society emphasizes the importance of facts rather ←13 | 14→than truth. It values autonomy and respect for different worldviews which leads to the construal of the discourse in terms of tag questions, epistemic adverbs, or epistemic phrases, such as I think, I bet etc., all of which imply hedging and subjective viewpoint of the speaker.

In another chapter titled “Indo-European *steh2- between etymology and cognition”, Marianna Pozza offers a thought-provoking interpretation of the change of the Indo-European root *steh2- ‘to stand/make stand’ that at some point in its history started to be associated with the meaning ‘soul’, which itself seems to be etymologically linked to the semantics of two possible Hittite corradical lexemes: ištanana- ‘altar’ and ištanzan- ‘soul’. The evidence discussed by the author shows that in a number of languages, the base verb, continuing Indo-European *steh2- ‘to stand/make stand’, is connected with preverbs which, in specifying the “concrete localization”, allow a figurative abstract interpretation finding its raison d’être precisely in the original localizing concreteness. The analysis of the form ištanzan- is based on the semantic shift/metaphor linking the concept of ‘to stand’ with the more abstract concept of ‘to think, have in mind’.

Biographical notes

Marcin Grygiel (Volume editor) Robert Kiełtyka (Volume editor)

Marcin Grygiel is associate professor at the Institute of English Studies, University of Rzeszów (Poland). His main research interests include comparative linguistics, translation, specialist languages, cognitive linguistics. 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.


Title: Cognitive Linguistics in the Year 2017