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Chaucer’s Choices

Through the looking-glass of medieval imagery


Katarzyna Stadnik

The monograph discusses the relation between language and visual culture, focusing on two Chaucerian narratives, «Knight’s Tale» and «Troilus and Criseyde». The study highlights the significance of the continuity of imagery in language and material culture for cultural transmission, providing insights into the relation between Chaucer’s linguistic usage and the late medieval symbolic tradition. Undertaken within the Cognitive Linguistic framework, the research indicates the usefulness of adopting a panchronic perspective on the development of language and culture.
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2. Idiosyncrasy of human cognition


2. Idiosyncrasy of human cognition

One of the CL assumptions holds that linguistic symbols refer to our projected reality, “a mental representation of reality, as construed by the human mind, mediated by our unique perceptual and conceptual systems” (Evans and Green 2006, p. 7). In our monograph, we attend to the fact that people often fail to realise the influence of cognitive constraints, whether universal (e.g., change blindness, Myin and O’Regan, 2009) or specific to the individual (e.g., incomplete or distorted memories) on the mental models of the world we create, often mistaking the projected reality for the external reality. Both aspects of human cognitive limitations seem important insofar as the community’s conceptual order is negotiated in human interaction, with each individual member making their contribution. To the extent that human knowledge can be imperfect as a result of the idiosyncratic nature of human cognitive activity, language use can be indicative of the fact that knowledge we inherit from past generations might be flawed and/ or inaccurate. Chris Frith (2007) provides one possible example of how idiosyncratic the human mind can be,

[s]ometimes brain damage can cause the mind to have information about the physical world that is completely false. A deaf old lady was woken up in the middle of the night by loud music. She searched her flat for the source of the music, but could not find it. Eventually she realized that the music was only in her mind. Hearing this non-existent...

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