LINGUIST List 18.1166

Tue Apr 17 2007

Review: Cognitive Science: Geeraerts (2006)

Editor for this issue: Laura Buszard-Welcher <>

Directory         1.    Mohammad Mahand, Cognitive Linguistics

Message 1: Cognitive Linguistics
Date: 17-Apr-2007
From: Mohammad Mahand <>
Subject: Cognitive Linguistics

Announced at AUTHOR: Geeraerts, DirkTITLE: Cognitive LinguisticsSUBTITLE: Basic ReadingsSERIES: Cognitive Linguistics ResearchPUBLISHER: Mouton De GruyterYEAR: 2006

Mohammad Rasekh Mahand, Linguistics Department, Bu-Ali Sina University,Hamedan, Iran.


This book attempts to provide an introductory course in CognitiveLinguistics by bringing together twelve main articles by leading figures inthe field. Each one of these articles introduces one of the basic conceptsof Cognitive Linguistics.Dirk Geeraerts in his introduction to the book gives a rough guide toCognitive Linguistics and compares it to an archipelago rather than anisland and holds that this book is a tour of twelve central islands,namely: Cognitive Grammar, grammatical construal, radial network, prototypetheory, schematic network, conceptual metaphor, image schema, metonymy,mental spaces, frame semantics, construction grammar, and usage-basedlinguistics.

Langacker uses Cognitive Grammar as the name for his theory of language.The paper in this collection by him includes the basic features ofCognitive Grammar. He starts with the very basic idea of grammar asconceptualization and imagery, by introducing a number of general featuresof grammatical imagery like profiling, specificity, scope and salience.Then he tries to build a descriptive framework for a grammar assuming thatlanguage is meaning and meaning is conceptualization. He argues that agrammar consists of symbolic units which are a conventional pairing of aform and a meaning. They not only include lexical items but also someabstract pairings like that of a noun and a thing and verb and a process.Langacker introduces some terms that are used in other CognitiveLinguistics' approaches, such as schematic network and domain matrix.

The second paper of this volume by Leonard Talmy is ''the relation ofgrammar to cognition''. Talmy has never suggested a term for his theory butgrammatical construal is selected by the editor of this volume forcapturing his ideas. He focuses on the specific types of conceptualconstrual that are expressed by those aspects of natural language that haveto do with syntax and morphology, rather than lexicon. He notes that thereare some forms of conceptual structure that are hardly ever expressed bygrammatical structure, like color, but others, like number, are typicallyexpressed by syntax and morphology.

The third paper in this collection, ''Cognitive typology and lexicalnetworks'' by Claudia Brugman and George Lakoff is the study of radialnetwork model on the basis of analysis of the preposition over. This modeldescribes a category structure in which a central case of the categoryradiates towards novel instances. Brugman suggests the above and acrossreading of over as central and then shows how less central readings extendfrom the central case.

Prototype theory is the matter of the fourth paper by the editor of thisvolume. The paper presents a systematic overview of the differentprototype-theoretical phenomena that are mentioned in the literature.

The fifth paper introduces schematic network as a generalization over theradial and prototype concepts. It adds the idea that the dynamism ofmeaning may also involve a shift along a taxonomical dimension. Suppose, atone level, we think of birds prototypically as living beings havingfeathers and wings and that can fly. If we stay on this level we can movefrom the central prototype cases to peripheral cases. But there are otherlevels at which we can think of birds; specific ones, like your parrot, andmore general ones, like fowl or birds of pray. Moving from a more specificone to a more general level is called schematization, and the model iscalled a schematic network. David Tuggy's paper ''Ambiguity, polysemy andvagueness'' studies the relationship between polysemy and vagueness in aschematic network.

Lakoff's paper ''The contemporary theory of metaphor'' introduces one of thebest known aspects of Cognitive Linguistics, namely conceptual metaphor.Conceptual metaphor theory rests on the recognition that a give metaphorneed not be restricted to a single lexical item, but may generalize overdifferent expressions.

Introducing image schema is the matter of chapter seven in a paper writtenby Gibbs and Colston entitled ''The cognitive psychological reality of imageschemas and their transformations''. An image schema is a regular patternthat recurs as a source domain for different target domains. Typically,they include containment, path, scales, verticality, and center-periphery.

Metonymy is another way of thinking in terms of domains playing a role inCognitive Linguistics. Metaphor is supposed to be based on similarity,whereas metonymy is said to be based on contiguity. For example when youfill up your car, you don't fill the entire car but the gas tank. Croft inhis paper here, ''The role of domains in the interpretation of metaphors andmetonymies'' tries to define metonymy in terms of a domain matrix.

If metaphor is analyzed as a mapping from one domain to another, thequestion is how such mapping takes place. Fauconnier and Turner by thepaper ''Conceptual integration networks'' provide a descriptive framework toanswer that question.

The tenth paper of this collection by Fillmore, ''Frame semantics''introduces his specific approach to natural language semantics. Onefundamental point is that one cannot understand the meaning of a wordwithout access to all the encyclopedic knowledge that relates to that word.

''The inherent semantics of argument structure: the case of the Englishditransitive construction'' by Goldberg rests on the notion of constructiongrammar. A grammatical construction is any string of words or morphemesshowing a coherent pattern. In Cognitive Linguistics such patterns areconsidered to be non-derived or a sign of the language.

The last paper of this collection by Tomasello ''First steps toward ausage-based theory of language acquisition'' is a usage-based study oflanguage acquisition based on Cognitive Linguistics principles.


The inclusion of main concepts in Cognitive Linguistics makes the presentcollection a valuable source for beginners as well as researchers in thisdomain. The editor has collected very good sources to introduce eachconcept and has added valuable information in his introduction to the book.By reading the book, a linguist may gain both familiarity with thisfast-growing domain of linguistics and the means to delve into it further.


Mohammad Rasekh Mahand is Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Bu-Ali SinaUniversity, Hamadan, Iran. His research interests include syntax,syntax-pragmatics interface and typology.