Edited By Małgorzata Fabiszak, Karolina Krawczak and Katarzyna Rokoszewska
Categorization in Discourse and Grammar
1. Cognitive Linguistics: Basic Assumptions and New Trends
Cognitive Linguistics emerged from the dissatisfaction with how generative grammar dealt with meaning. During the Linguistics Wars (Harris 1995), the modularity of language, i.e. its special status vis a vis other cognitive abilities, and its innateness have been questioned and a new theory of language as originating in use through general cognitive processes such as categorization, generalization, and abstraction has been proposed. Unlike in generative grammar, in Cognitive Linguistics, the focus is on meaning construction and language in use. Lakoff and Johnson (1999: 6), in their philosophical manifest stress that “there is no Chomskyan person, for whom language is pure syntax, pure form insulated from and independent of all meaning, context, perception, emotion, memory, attention, action, and the dynamic nature of communication.” Thus, they reject the generative approach, which abstracted from linguistic performance and focused on the competence of the ideal native speaker, the competence viewed as a generator of acceptable grammatical structures independent of meaning. In Cognitive Linguistics, language is embodied, usage-based and sensitive to its context of use.
This change in the research scope has been nicely summarized by Bernardez (2007: 33f.). He traces the approach to cognition as a subject of linguistic research and shows that it is characterized by a move away from autonomous cognition based on the BRAIN IS A COMPUTER metaphor and towards an ever-expanding understanding of cognition in context. The expansion starts with cognition in the context of our...
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