Cognitive Linguistics Subject Matter of Cognitive Linguistics

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4 Cognitive Linguistics (1)

Cognitive Linguistics

Subject Matter of Cognitive Linguistics

Lecturer: Prof. M.R. Galieva

The main problems to be discussed

  • Cognitive Linguistics as an independent scientific discipline;
  • the sources of Cognitive Linguistics;
  • theoretical foundation of Cognitive Linguistics;
  • the key notions of Cognitive Linguistics;

Cognitive Linguistics

  • Cognitive Linguistics is a branch of linguistics concerned with the study of relationships between choices and mental processes, human experience and its results – knowledge;
  • Cognitive linguistics regards language as a cognitive mechanism of representing, storing and transmitting knowledge layers

The sources of Cognitive Linguistics

The ideas of Cognitive Linguistics are laid in the works:

  • W. Humboldt – “Language is people’s spirit”;
  • A. Potebnya – the near and further meanings;
  • N. Chomsky – language is a mental phenomenon;
  • B. de Courtene, R. Jackobson – links of linguistics with other sciences;
  • Z. Hjelmslev – the man and his mind;
  • E. Sapir and B. Whorf – the theory of linguistic relativity;
  • I.I. Meschaninov – the theory of notional categories

The theoretical foundation of Cognitive Linguistics

  • Frame Semantics (Ch. Fillmore);
  • Conceptual semantics – information obtained in the process of visual, auditory, tactile, etc., perception forming a certain conceptual system in the individual’s mind;

The theoretical foundation of Cognitive Linguistics

  • Prototype semantics (E. Rosh) concentrates attention on the process of categorization.
  • Categorization – is a mental process of taxonomic activity, based on the theory of prototypes regarded as the best samples of a certain category

The theoretical foundation of Cognitive Linguistics

  • the theory of relevance (salience), foregrounding (figure-ground) – a cognitive procedure of selecting and attracting attention to the most significant information.
  • the theory of conceptual metaphor regarded as a way of thinking, as a model of understanding (G.Lacoff), one of the way of cognition based on the principle of analogy;
  • the theory of mental space, conceptual blending (Fauconnier, 1994)

The main notions of Cognitive Linguistics

  • The notion of concept, its structure and types;
  • Knowledge structures and their types;
  • Conceptual metaphor theory;
  • Frame Semantics

The notion of Concept

  • Concept is a complex mental unit, a means of representation of knowledge structures, multifold cognitive structure, an operational unit of memory. It is defined as “a quantum of knowledge”, “a unit of the conceptual system of language”.
  • Cultural concept – a culture specific and nationally oriented unit consisting of notional, image-bearing and evaluative layers and characterized by emotional, expressive components and associative links.

Knowledge structures

  • Knowledge is not an amorphous entity; it structured to present certain blocks of information, containing a system of interrelated concepts;
  • there are different types of knowledge structures: linguistic (lexicon, grammar, phonetics, word-formation, etc.); encyclopedic (world knowledge, history, politics, economy, nature, etc.); communicative (aims, intentions, situations, settings, etc.); cultural (literature, art, cultural values, customs and traditions, etc.).
  • Knowledge structures are verbalized by all linguistic means among which lexicon, derivatives, compounds, phraseology and some stylistic devices are assigned a priority role

Types of knowledge structures

  • Religious and mythological knowledge structures: a forbidden fruit, Sodom and Gomorrah, the tower of Babel, Solomon’s wisdom, apple of discord, Pandora’s box, Achilles' heel
  • Literary knowledge structures: the last of Mohicans (Cooper), Don Juan (Byron), much ado about nothing (Shakespeare), John Barleycorn (Burns),
  • Historical knowledge structures: cut the Gordian knot, cross the Rubicon, the war of Roses, golden age, the Iron Duke

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