Semantic Leaps explores how people combine knowledge from different domains in order to understand and express new ideas. Concentrating on dynamic aspects of on-line meaning construction, Coulson identifies two related sets of processes: frame-shifting and conceptual blending. Frame-shifting is semantic reanalysis in which existing elements in the contextual representation are reorganized into a new frame. Conceptual blending is a set of cognitive operations for combining partial cognitive models. By addressing linguistic phenomena often ignored in traditional meaning research, Coulson explains how processes of cross-domain mapping, frame-shifting, and conceptual blending enhance the explanatory adequacy of traditional frame-based systems for natural language processing. The focus is on how the constructive processes speakers use to assemble, link, and adapt simple cognitive models underlie a broad range of productive language behavior.
"Most cognitive science work on thought and language focuses on relatively small sets of linguistic examples that only bear on restricted theoretical models. Seana Coulson's book Semantic Leaps is a wonderful exception to this trend. Her work addresses a wide range of diverse, complex linguistic phenomena, and she aims to capture how people construct meaning in terms of flexible theoretical framework of conceptual blending theory. Coulson's research and writing make use of principles and empirical methods from linguistics, psychology, and neuroscience. The results of her studies push the boundaries of current cognitive science thinking about meaning construction. Semantic Leaps takes several small, but significant empirical steps, yet contains findings and ideas that represent a giant leap forward for the interdisciplinary study of mind and meaning." Raymond W. Gibbs, Jr., Professor of Psychology, University of California, Santa Cruz