Meaning is embodied - but it is also social. If Cognitive Linguistics is to be a
complete theory of language in use, it must cover the whole spectrum from
grounded cognition to nonsense and irony. This book tries to show how.
Cognitive Linguistics knocked down the wall between language and the
experiential content of the human mind. Frame semantics, embodiment,
conceptual construal, figure-ground organization, metaphorical mapping, and
mental spaces are among the results of this breakthrough, which at the same
time provided cognitive science as a whole with an essential human
dimension. A new phase began when Cognitive Linguistics started to see
itself as part of the wider movement of 'usage-based' linguistics. Bringing
about an alliance between mind and discourse, it complemented the
conceptual dimension that had been dominant until then with a 'use'
dimension - thereby living up to the explicit 'experiential' commitment of
Cognitive Linguistics. This outward expansion is continuing: The focus on
'meaning construction', which began with the theory of blending, highlights
emergent, online effects rather than underlying mappings. Cognitive
Linguistics is integrating the evolutionary perspective, which links up
individual and population-based features of language. The empirical
obligations incurred by this expansion have led to greatly increased attention
to corpus and experimental methods, especially in relation to sociolinguistic
and language acquisition research.
The book describes this development and goes on to discuss the
foundational challenge that it creates for Cognitive Linguistics as it begins to
cover issues that are also central to types of discourse analysis focusing on
social processes of determination. The book argues for a synthesis based on
a renewed Cognitive Linguistics, which can accommodate everything from
bodily grounding to deconstructible floating signifiers in an integrated
complete picture, which also covers the roles of arbitrariness and structure.