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Cognition in context

New insights into language, culture and the mind

by Enrique Bernárdez (Volume editor) Joanna Jabłońska-Hood (Volume editor) Katarzyna Stadnik (Volume editor)
Edited Collection 236 Pages
Series: Łódź Studies in Language, Volume 64

Summary

As cognitive scientists continue to probe into the nature of the human mind, it is increasingly clear that research into cognition cannot be dissociated from the context in which our mental activity occurs. The papers collected in this book testify to the growing interest in adopting a broad characterisation of what counts as relevant context. The vices of seeking essences behind complex phenomena should not go unnoticed, the primary, and possibly the most crucial, downside of this approach being a reductionist treatment of the human mind. With this book, the authors want to show that humans are not merely brains, minds, speakers, learners, readers, etc., but, first and foremost, complex beings who communicate within and beyond the contexts of their own cultures.

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Copyright Page
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • Citability of the eBook
  • Contents
  • List of contributors
  • Introduction to the volume Cognition in Context. New Insights into Language, Culture, and the Mind
  • Second-person narration: A new mode of (mis)understanding the other?
  • The role of the language in human evolution
  • Intersemiotic and interlingual translation on the basis of “Vermeer” by Wisława Szymborska
  • Less words, please! Visual ads as evocative rhetorical constructs of the modern age
  • Mental models, culture, cognition and communication
  • Arabic native speaker in his linguistic environment: Some insights into language attitudes and practices
  • “It was Your Fault”, or strategies used in the construal of blame and causal structure of stories written in English as a Foreign Language
  • Patterns of metaphor-metonymy interaction in compound signs of Polish Sign Language
  • The role of formulaic language in constructing common ground in intercultural communication
  • Variativity of a speaker’s verbal and non-verbal behavior in English business discourse
  • The Japanese higher education learning environment: Challenges in building intercultural competences
  • Language and cognition in the construction of emotive stereotypes
  • The concept HIDNIST as based on the associative experiment data
  • The problem of truth in the Jain philosophy of language of classical period (5th–10th c. CE)
  • List of figures
  • List of tables

List of contributors

Janusz Badio

University of Łódź, Poland

Enrique Bernárdez

Complutense University of Madrid, Spain

Vasylyna Chaban

Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, Ukraine

Małgorzata Glinicka

University of Warsaw, Poland

Joanna Jabłońska-Hood

Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Poland

Henri de Jongste

Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Germany

Krzysztof Kosecki

University of Łódź, Poland

Joanna Natalia Murkocińska

The Embassy of The Republic of Poland in Cairo

Andrew Nowlan

Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan

Magdalena Okła

Maria Curie-Sklodowska University, Lublin, Poland

Magdalena Rembowska-Płuciennik

The Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland

Juliia Skrynnik

Vasil Karazin Kharkiv National University, Ukraine

Katarzyna Stadnik

Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Poland

Anna Stwora

University of Silesia, Katowice, Poland

Carla Suhr

University of California, Los Angeles, United States of America

Valentina Trombetta

Graduate School of Robotics, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany

Kamil Zubrzycki

University of Warsaw, Poland

Enrique Bernárdez, Joanna Jabłońska-Hood, Katarzyna Stadnik

Introduction to the volume Cognition in Context. New Insights into Language, Culture, and the Mind

As cognitive scientists continue to probe into the nature of the human mind, it is increasingly clear that research into cognition cannot be dissociated from the context in which our mental activity occurs. The papers collected in this volume testify to the growing interest in adopting a broad characterisation of what counts as relevant context. Utilising a stance based on the inclusion of various potentially contributing factors may, and often does, present a real challenge to the researcher. Yet, the vices of seeking essences behind complex phenomena should not go unnoticed, the primary, and possibly the most crucial, downside of this approach being a reductionist treatment of the human mind. That is, instead of appreciating complexity, the researcher may succumb to the lure of obtaining a nice neat set of easily interpretable results. With this volume, we want to show that humans are not merely brains, minds, speakers, learners, readers, etc., but, first and foremost, complex beings who communicate within and beyond the contexts of their own cultures.

The papers in this volume witness a high level of diversity together with an undeniable homogeneity. Also, at the same time they are characterised by a number of features that, innovative as they are, separate them from the most dominant trends in mainstream linguistics, while integrating the results of recent models of current linguistics, especially of a cognitive and/or cultural stamp. They deal with different languages, viz. English, Polish, Arabic, Polish Sign Language, Sanskrit, or Polish compared with Ukrainian. They range from theoretical issues of foremost importance, as the role of language in human evolution or mental models, to applications of linguistics to Second Language Teaching, both in its purely linguistic facet and as a form of intercultural interaction. Some of the papers reveal a special interest for sociolinguistic topics, within the general area of variation and interaction, while others consider in the same vein topics related to the multimodality of linguistic products.

A feature shared by the articles is the variety of scientific references. Instead of being limited to publications by linguists belonging to the same school or trend as the author of each paper, we find linguists and other researchers, from many countries, different time periods, and various scientific persuasions. This, ←9 | 10→we think, enriches the articles considerably, making them more easily accessible to researchers practicing different models or belonging to diverse schools.

Another point encountered throughout the collection of papers is their empirical character. Of course, in the basically theoretical papers no empirical study is carried on, apart from a careful analysis and confrontation of previous theoretical studies in the topic. But corpora are pervasive, both those created by the researcher for their own work and those already in existence. This, however, does not preclude the study of individual texts, for instance in a comparison of two translations of a poem or a consideration of a significant tool in the writing of narrative. Linguistic or, more precisely, psycholinguistic experiment is also present, as is the semantic and semiotic study of vocabulary, of interest for linguists but also for those devoted to philosophy and human thinking.

This means that this collection of papers is highly varied as far as topics, languages, and approaches are concerned. But throughout the whole collection some clear theoretically significant threads are identifiable, which contribute to the ‘unity in diversity’ of the volume. Several linguistic schools are in action: cognitive linguistic thinking is clearly present a bit everywhere, more or less intensely. A special place is allotted to the school that has been ‘baptized’ as Cognitive Ethnolinguistics1, as developed by Prof. Jerzy Bartmiński and colleagues at Maria Curie-Skłodowska- University in Lublin, Poland. It combines into a completely new and coherent whole earlier research on the ‘Linguistic View of the World’ that was an important object of study also in Russia and other ‘East-European’ countries, as well as intensive research on the ethnic vocabulary of the Slavonic languages by means of corpora.

This research lead to the development of a number of concepts that are gaining ground, even outside the strict area of Cognitive Ethnolinguistics, although they are sometimes misunderstood by members of other schools of linguistics. Such is the stereotype, partially synonymous with ‘prototype’ as familiar in cognitive linguistics, but which incorporates sociohistorical and cultural elements as an essential part. That is, instead of a purely individual-cognitive view, as is the case of ‘prototype’, a stereotype is necessarily interindividual, i.e., social, historical, and cultural.

This point is visible throughout the papers in this volume, which opt for a view of language in supraindividual terms, emphasising its interactive component ←10 | 11→and, hence, the role of culture. The concept of the stereotype is becoming a central tool for the study of language in relation to both cognition and culture.

Another basic concept is that of the cognitive definition, where attention is paid to the general ‘ethnic’ knowledge of the meaning of a word, and not only to the experts’ definition or to an attempt at identifying the prototypical meaning, as known by the linguist —i.e., by an expert. This reminds us of Hillary Putnam’s ‘Division of linguistic labor’ although Bartmiński’s model incorporates the cognitive-cultural components absent from Putnam’s approach.

Again, the concept of the cognitive definition is present, more or less patently and explicitly, in most papers of the book. It informs the way of facing the problem of how to define and describe the meaning of words, and is therefore visible in the study on the vocabulary of emotions, but also in that of the Sanskrit words related to ‘truth’, and a bit everywhere.

A third basic concept is the already mentioned Linguistic View of the World, with a long tradition in several European countries and with its ultimate origins in authors like Wilhelm von Humboldt. This concept is not to be confused with the Linguistic Relativity Principle —more similar to it is Dan Slobin’s Thinking for Speaking, developed independently. A special image or view of the world is created through language by its speakers’ culture and life experience: it is not an individual’s view of the world, therefore, but the collective, ethnolinguistic image of the world as experienced by the members of the community.

Even if some of the papers in this volume do not refer directly and explicitly to these concepts and the Lublin School as such, the view of language is clearly homogeneous: language is a sociocultural, historical phenomenon which has to be studied by direct recourse to real data, especially —but not only— corpora. Be it language evolution, linguistic strategies in second language learning or the linguistic diversity in Arabic-speaking countries, research is carried out from a perspective that takes into account the individuals’ interaction inside a certain group, national, ethnic, etcetera, where not only the individuals themselves, but also the groups they belong to play a role.

This view of language as interaction, where culture plays a crucial role —being co-determinant of the speakers’ linguistic view of their world— is what provides this volume with homogeneity while allowing for fairly varied approaches, topics and interests.

In what follows we offer an overview of the topics and research problems of individual contributions to the volume. In the first paper of the present publication, Rembowska-Płuciennik, the author of Second-person narration: New mode of (mis)understanding the other?, seeks to connect the study of literature with an enactive approach to second-person narration. In so doing, the scholar offers ←11 | 12→illuminating insights into the interplay of social cognition and the storytelling capacities of the human mind. The use of the second-person ‘you’ is presented as a means of perspective-taking, a way of reaching out to the other by embracing their view of the world.

Biographical notes

Enrique Bernárdez (Volume editor) Joanna Jabłońska-Hood (Volume editor) Katarzyna Stadnik (Volume editor)

Enrique Bernárdez is professor of linguistics (ret.) at the Complutense University, Madrid, Spain. He has worked for many years on textlinguistics, linguistic typology and the relations between culture and language. He is also active in translation, especially from Icelandic and Danish into Spanish. Joanna Jabłońska-Hood, PhD, is an assistant professor at the Department of English at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, Poland. Her academic interest focuses on cognitive linguistics, conceptual integration theory, and humour studies, especially with regard to British humour. Katarzyna Stadnik, PhD, is an assistant professor at the Department of English at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, Poland. She has published on cognitive and cultural linguistics, as well as cognitive approaches to medieval and contemporary literature.

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