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LINGUIST List 19.3384

Thu Nov 06 2008

Diss: Cognitive Sci/Semantics: Salomons-Tribushinina: 'Cognitive ...'

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        1.    Elena Tribushinina, Cognitive Reference Points: Semantics beyond the prototypes in adjectives of space and colour


Message 1: Cognitive Reference Points: Semantics beyond the prototypes in adjectives of space and colour
Date: 05-Nov-2008
From: Elena Tribushinina <e.tribushininaleidenuniv.nl>
Subject: Cognitive Reference Points: Semantics beyond the prototypes in adjectives of space and colour
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Institution: Leiden University Centre for Linguistics
Program: Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2008

Author: Elena Salomons-Tribushinina

Dissertation Title: Cognitive Reference Points: Semantics beyond the prototypes in adjectives of space and colour

Dissertation URL: http://www.lotpublications.nl/publish/articles/003034/bookpart.pdf

Linguistic Field(s): Cognitive Science
                            Semantics

Dissertation Director:
Arie Verhagen
Theo A. Janssen

Dissertation Abstract:

Psychologists have shown that reference-point reasoning is a ubiquitous
cognitive phenomenon intrinsic to perception, categorisation, spatial
orientation, social, organisational and marketing behaviour of human
beings. Various cognitive tasks involve evoking a salient entity - called
cognitive reference point - for establishing mental contact with less
salient items. It is then reasonable to assume that language use also
involves a lot of reference-point reasoning. However, linguistic aspects of
this phenomenon have hardly been investigated. A welcome exception is
Langacker's reference-point model dealing with grammatical constructions
and metonymy.

This thesis elaborates the reference-point model by applying it to lexical
semantics. The only reference point that has been quite intensely studied
in lexical semantics is a prototype. By focusing on two adjectival groups
(colour and size), the author demonstrates that a whole panoply of
cognitive reference points are used to anchor conceptual specifications of
lexical items, prototypes being only a special case of the reference-point
mechanism. An important finding is that a word may trigger more than one
reference point at a time. For example, dimensional adjectives may be
interpreted vis-à-vis an average value, endpoints of the scale, prototypes
and dimensions of the human body. Contextual variability is claimed to be
related to various combinations of reference points, their relative
salience and patterns of interaction.

The dissertation is of interest to scholars studying the semantics of
adjectives and degree adverbs, as well as to anyone concerned with
cognitive linguistics and cognitive psychology.



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