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Empirical Methods in Language Studies

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Edited By Krzysztof Kosecki and Janusz Badio

«Empirical Methods in Language Studies» presents 22 papers employing a broad range of empirical methods in the analysis of various aspects of language and communication. The individual texts offer contributions to the description of conceptual strategies, syntax, semantics, non-verbal communication, language learning, discourse, and literature.
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The socio-cultural conceptualisation of femininity: corpus evidence for cognitive models

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Abstract: This study examines the possibility of extending Multifactorial Usage-Feature Analysis (Profile-Based Approach) to describe abstract conceptual structures such as those identified in Idealised Cognitive Model (ICM) research. The approach is argued to resolve two methodological limitations of the analytical framework of ICM. These limitations can be described as (i) a lack of means for identifying social variation in the structure posited and (ii) a lack of means for falsifying the structures identified with the framework. Multifactorial Usage-Feature Analysis is corpus-driven and quantified, permitting a multidimensional picture of the models that accounts for social variation as well as falsification through repeat analysis. The study focuses on the concept of FEMININITY. Instead of limiting the analysis to metaphoric structure, it takes a keyword lexical approach. The data are synchronic and restricted to a specific genre / register of American English.

Keywords: Idealised Cognitive Models, Multifactorial Usage-Feature Analysis (Behavioural Profile Approach), corpus linguistics, Cognitive Linguistics, femininity.

1. Introduction: Usage-Based Cognitive Models and FEMININITY

The Idealised Cognitive Model, first proposed by Lakoff (1987), has been systematically demonstrated to be a powerful and versatile tool for the description of conceptual structure as encoded in language. However, two fundamental concerns regarding its empirical reliability remain to be considered. Firstly, the very nature of the models are ‘idealised’. This means that they are extremely abstract generalisations that offer no information as to socio-cultural variation. In other words, each language community, or culture, is treated as a single block,...

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