LINGUIST List 26.3080

Mon Jun 29 2015

Review: Cog Sci; Ling Theories; Psycholing: Taylor, Littlemore (2014)

Editor for this issue: Sara Couture <>

Date: 28-Mar-2015
From: Stefan Hartmann <>
Subject: The Bloomsbury Companion to Cognitive Linguistics
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Book announced at

EDITOR: Jeannette Littlemore
EDITOR: John R. Taylor
TITLE: The Bloomsbury Companion to Cognitive Linguistics
SERIES TITLE: Bloomsbury Companions
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury Publishing (formerly The Continuum International Publishing Group)
YEAR: 2014

REVIEWER: Stefan Hartmann, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

Review's Editor: Helen Aristar-Dry


This edited volume gives an overview of Cognitive Linguistics, a research
framework that has proven increasingly successful in recent decades. The book
is subdivided into four major parts: Part 1 is an introduction by the authors.
Part 2 is devoted to “Major Figures in Cognitive Linguistics”. The third part,
“Topics in Cognitive Linguistics Research”, gives an overview of major strands
of research in the cognitive-linguistic paradigm, while the final part
discusses “New Directions and Applications”.

In their Introduction (Chapter 1), John R. Taylor and Jeanette Littlemore
introduce some major themes in Cognitive Linguistics, acknowledging the
heterogeneity of the framework, which comprises a variety of fairly different
approaches, some of which are discussed in more detail in Part 2 of the book.

In Chapter 2.1, Phil Bennett introduces “Langacker’s Cognitive Grammar”, which
claims that knowledge of language can be exhaustively described in terms of
phonological, semantic, and symbolic structures. Bennett emphasizes the
practical applicability of the key concepts of Cognitive Grammar (which were
mostly developed through introspection) by using authentic examples from

Chapter 2.2, by Dennis Tay, is dedicated to “Lakoff and the Theory of
Conceptual Metaphor”. Apart from Conceptual Metaphor Theory (Lakoff and
Johnson 1980), which treats metaphor as an experientially based cognitive
phenomenon, this chapter discusses Lakoff’s work on categorization as well as
his more recent work on embodied cognition and the Neural Theory of Thought
and Language.

Chapter 2.3, by Kris Ramonda, deals with “Goldberg’s Construction Grammar”,
focusing on much-discussed examples such as the ditransitive and the
caused-motion construction as well as constructionist approaches to polysemy.

In Chapter 2.4, Brian J. Birdsell discusses “Fauconnier’s Theory of Mental
Spaces and Conceptual Blending”, which models the construction of complex
concepts in terms of the integration of different input spaces. In addition,
Birdsell deals with critiques and limitations of blending theory as well as
potential applications beyond language, e.g. in accounting for rituals.

Chapter 2.5, by Sarah Turner, introduces “Tomasello’s Theory of First Language
Acquisition”, emphasizing the two sets of skills that Tomasello (e.g. 2003)
regards as fundamental in language acquisition, namely pattern-finding and
intention reading.

Finally, Chapter 2.6, by Daniel Sandford, is dedicated to “Bybee’s Usage-Based
Models of Language”. Sandford distinguishes between different stages in the
development of Bybee’s theory, starting from rule-based Natural Generative
Phonology to her more recent work on usage-based theory, which subscribes to
an exemplar-based view of (linguistic) categorization.

Part 3 of the book, “Topics in Cognitive Linguistics Research”, starts out
with Gerard Steen’s contribution on “The Cognitive-Linguistic Revolution in
Metaphor Studies”. A main focus of this chapter is the idea of primary
metaphor (cf. Grady 1997). Primary metaphors are seen as immediately
experience-based, while complex metaphors are seen as composed of multiple
primary metaphors. For example, THEORIES ARE BUILDINGS, according to Grady
(1997), is composed of the primary metaphors ORGANIZATION IS PHYSICAL
STRUCTURE and PERSISTING IS REMAINING ERECT. This analysis, however, raises
the question of whether primary metaphors are indeed metaphors, as they are
based on experiential correlations that do not necessarily involve two
conceptual domains: As Steen (p. 125) points out, some primary metaphors “are
indeed primary metonymies”. In addition, Steen deals with the application of
CMT in discourse analysis, the idea of discourse metaphors (e.g. Zinken et al.
2008), and methods for reliably identifying conceptual metaphors.

Under the programmatic heading “On the Nature and Scope of Metonymy in
Linguistic Description and Explanation: Towards Settling Some Controversies”,
Francisco José Ruiz de Mendoza Ibáñez, in Chapter 3.2, discusses how metonymy
can be defined and how it relates to and interacts with metaphor. In an
attempt to integrate different views on metonymy held in Cognitive
Linguistics, he defines metonymy as “a domain-internal conceptual association
or mapping whereby the source domain affords access to the target domain
either through a domain expansion or a domain reduction cognitive operation.”
(p. 150) In addition, he distinguishes four different interaction patterns
between metaphor and metonymy, namely metonymic expansion or reduction of the
source or target domain of a metaphor, respectively.

Chapter 3.3, “Embodied Metaphor” by Raymond W. Gibbs, jr., gives an overview
of experimental approaches to metaphor. He reviews neuroscientific and
behavioral studies supporting the view that far from being mere rhetoric
devices, metaphors do activate their respective source domains and play a role
in mental activities far beyond language. For instance, in Zhong and
Liljenquist’s (2006) experiment, participants who were asked to remember an
immoral deed were significantly more likely to choose a cleansing product as a
free gift for their participation in the experiment than participants asked to
remember a moral deed, which is consistent with the primary metaphors GOOD IS

Chapter 3.4, by Frank Boers, deals with “Idioms and Phraseology”. He shows
that in many cases, conceptual metaphors have become lexicalized in idioms.
However, there are significant cross-linguistic differences regarding the
question of which metaphors become institutionalized in the idiomatic
repertoire of a language. The differences in idiom repertoires can often be
linked to cross-cultural differences: For example, Boers shows that English is
comparatively rich in seafaring idioms, while Spanish idioms are often derived
from the domain of religion.

Chapter 3.5, by Dirk Geeraerts and Gitte Kristiansen, is dedicated to
“Cognitive Linguistics and Language Variation”, arguing that a variationist
outlook follows straightforwardly from the usage-based conceptualization of
language embraced in Cognitive Linguistics. In particular, they highlight two
domains of investigation: Interlinguistic and cultural variation, as
exemplified by studies on different metaphor repertoires in different
languages, and intralinguistic and lectal variation, which can in turn be
subdivided into studies on the “variation of meaning” on the one hand and on
the “meaning of variation” on the other. While the first approach
investigates, broadly speaking, the impact of language-internal variation on
conceptual construal, the second approach deals with “the way in which
language variation is perceived and categorized by the language user” (p.
211), e.g. in terms of attitudes towards different lectal variants.

In Chapter 3.6, Chloe Harrison and Peter Stockwell introduce “Cognitive
Poetics”, i.e. literary analysis drawing on principles of cognitive science in
general and Cognitive Linguistics in particular. Unlike traditional literary
theories, Cognitive Poetics puts emphasis on the reader’s engagement with a
text, which is why Harrison and Stockwell exemplify the framework with an
analysis of book reviews from the online shop Amazon.

Chapter 3.7, by Veronika Koller, deals with “Cognitive Linguistics and
Ideology”. In line with recent attempts to combine concepts from Cognitive
Linguistics with Critical Discourse Analysis (cf. e.g. Hart forthc.), she
discusses how ideology can be defined and how it can be identified in
discourse. For instance, she demonstrates how an in-group/out-group
distinction can be construed drawing on linguistic devices such as modality,
metaphor, and social actor representation.

Chapter 3.8, by Jose A. Mompean, discusses “Cognitive Linguistics and
Phonology”, emphasizing the relation of phonology to general cognitive
processes, most importantly, categorization. He reviews cognitive-linguistic
research showing how a prototype approach to linguistic categorization can be
applied to phonology (e.g. Taylor 2003, Nathan 2008). In addition, he
discusses various cases of phonological variation and change which bear
witness to the socio-cultural and ecological grounding of language.

Part 4, “New Directions and Applications”, begins with Stefan Th. Gries’
chapter on “Corpus and Quantitative Methods”. After a brief introduction
emphasizing the necessity of taking empirical data into account, Gries
presents a variety of monofactorial as well as multifactorial methods
developed in recent years for the quantitative study of corpus data. Regarding
multifactorial methods, he distinguishes between two senses of
“multidimensional”: While “multidimensional[1] approaches” such as Behavioral
Profiling (Divjak and Gries 2006) take various dimensions into account but
analyze them separately, “multidemensional[2] approaches” such as Multiple
Correspondence Analysis (e.g. Levshina et al. 2013) take many different
dimensions into account at once.

In Chapter 4.2, “Non-linguistic Applications of Cognitive Linguistics: On the
Usefulness of Image-schematic Metaphors in User Interface Design”, Jörg
Hurtienne discusses how concepts from Cognitive Linguistics can be applied in
designing user interfaces that are intuitive to use.

Chapter 4.3, by Jörg Matthias Roche, deals with the application of Cognitive
Linguistics in “Language Acquisition and Language Pedagogy”. Roche observes
that language learning curricula and textbooks still tend to adhere to the
conceptualization of language as a closed, rule-based system, largely ignoring
pragmatic and interactional aspects. Instead, he argues for a usage-based
approach towards language pedagogy, taking into account the meaning of
grammatical schemas as well as the importance of metaphor and conceptual

The final chapter, by Dennis Tay, discusses the implications of “Metaphor
Theory for Counselling Professionals”. Tay argues that conceptual metaphor
theory can be fruitfully applied in psychotherapy, as metaphors can allow the
counsellor to access the client’s emotions. In turn, the counsellor can make
use of metaphors to provide new frames of reference for the clients.


In 2013, the 12th International Cognitive Linguistics Conference in Edmonton,
Canada, celebrated “25 years of Cognitive Linguistics”. In the quarter of a
century that has passed since the publication of two foundational works of
Cognitive Linguistics (Lakoff 1987; Langacker 1987), the field has evolved
significantly. Cognitive Linguistics has become more interdisciplinary, more
empirical, and even broader in scope. In addition, it intersects with a
variety of related frameworks such as (some varieties of) Construction
Grammar, functional linguistics, and usage-based approaches to language.
Littlemore and Taylor’s “Bloomsbury Companion to Cognitive Linguistics”
provides a valuable snapshot of the past and present of this continually
evolving research paradigm.

As Phil Bennett points out in his chapter on Cognitive Grammar, Langacker
(1986: 1) began an early sketch of Cognitive Grammar with the words: “What
follows is a minority report.” To this day, cognitive linguists like to
construe themselves as a minority arguing against the “mainstream” view of
generative grammar. However, things have changed. While generative grammar
remains influential, Cognitive Linguistics is no longer a minority view, as is
witnessed, for example, by the growing number of textbooks, journals, and book
series dedicated to Cognitive Linguistics. In addition, numerous handbooks try
to give an overview of the quite diverse and heterogeneous research conducted
within the framework. Littlemore and Taylor’s “Companion” has appeared almost
simultaneously with Dąbrowska and Divjak’s upcoming “Handbook of Cognitive
Linguistics”, and both works complement previous handbooks such as Geeraerts
and Cuyckens’ (2007a) “Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics”, which can
still be seen as the most comprehensive overview of topics in Cognitive
Linguistics. However, the field has seen important development since Geeraerts
and Cuyckens’ volume, both in terms of theoretical modelling and in terms of
methodological approaches. Therefore, two questions emerge for the evaluation
of this “Companion”: a) Does it have a special focus which sets it apart from
comparable publications? b) Does it reflect recent trends and developments in
Cognitive Linguistics appropriately?

As for the first question, it can clearly be said that the volume has some
focal points which run like a common thread through most chapters of the book.
First, conceptual metaphor theory is a recurrent theme in almost every
chapter, which is of course hardly surprising given the major influence of CMT
on Cognitive Linguistics. Second, potential applications of Cognitive
Linguistics in language pedagogy are discussed in many chapters. Third, many
chapters discuss implications of cognitive-linguistic theories beyond
language. The latter two areas of emphasis are highly welcome as they reflect
the interdisciplinary outlook of Cognitive Linguistics as well as its
grounding in cognitive science. In addition, issues of practical application
and interdisciplinary approaches exploring the relation of language and mind
have become more and more important in Cognitive Linguistics.

This leads us directly to the question of whether the “Companion” reflects
recent trends and developments within Cognitive Linguistics. While the answer
is clearly in the affirmative for the areas just mentioned, other areas could
arguably have been discussed in more detail. For example, the importance of
research on gesture studies and signed language research in current Cognitive
Linguistics can hardly be overestimated. While the importance of regarding
language as a multimodal phenomenon is occasionally mentioned, these areas of
research would have deserved a chapter of their own.

The four-part structure of the volume has its advantages and shortcomings, as
well. The final part on “New Directions and Applications” could easily have
been extended, especially given that the only chapter dealing with “new
directions” in methodological terms is Gries’ contribution on quantitative
corpus methods. While there are still too many studies relying exclusively on
introspective methods and made-up example sentences, quantitative corpus
studies are fortunately already fairly widespread in Cognitive Linguistics and
not necessarily a “new direction”.

The main part of the volume, which introduces “Topics in Cognitive Linguistics
Research”, could easily have been extended as well, but given the broad scope
of Cognitive Linguistics, the editors can hardly be blamed for being highly
selective here. The introductory part on “Major Figures in Cognitive
Linguistics” is certainly the most original one of the present volume,
combining an overview of influential theories with a glimpse into the history
of Cognitive Linguistics. In contrast to most comparable handbooks (e.g.
Geeraerts and Cuyckens 2007; Robinson and Ellis 2008; Heine and Narrog 2010,
among many others), the respective theories are not presented by the scholars
who proposed them, which offers a fresh perspective on some of the major
topics in Cognitive Linguistics. Again, the editors inevitably had to be
fairly selective. Nevertheless, it is quite surprising that there is no
chapter on Leonard Talmy, who is often considered one of the three “founding
fathers” of Cognitive Linguistics along with George Lakoff and Ronald
Langacker (cf. e.g. Geeraerts and Cuyckens 2007b: 7; Geeraerts 2010: 41).
Especially Talmy’s theory of Force Dynamics (Talmy 1988) has proven highly
influential. For instance, it has been applied successfully to account for the
historical development of modals in different languages (cf. e.g. Sweetser
1990; Boye 2001).

Speaking of historical development, the diachronic dimension is largely
missing in the “Companion” as well. This is of course a result of the
synchronic orientation of much work in Cognitive Linguistics. However, much
recent work combining historical linguistics and Cognitive Linguistics has
emphasized the importance of “relating synchrony and diachrony” (Winters 2010:
18), especially given the key hypothesis of usage-based linguistics that
“[l]anguage continually evolves through usage; in other words, all of language
is diachronic” (Croft 2012: 30).

All in all, however, the fact that this extensive enumeration of topics that
could have been discussed in more detail should not detract from the fact that
the volume covers all important aspects of Cognitive Linguistics, and most
major topics are discussed in great depth. Also, it incorporates topics that
are largely ignored in the established Cognitive Linguistics handbooks, e.g.
variationist linguistics and non-linguistic applications of
cognitive-linguistic concepts. It is therefore highly recommended to anyone
interested in Cognitive Linguistics, conceptual metaphor theory, and the
application of usage-based linguistics in language pedagogy and beyond.


Boye, Kasper (2001): The Force-Dynamic Core Meaning of Danish Modal Verbs. In:
Acta Linguistica Hafniensia 33, 19–66.

Croft, William (2012): Verbs. Aspect and Causal Structure. Oxford: Oxford
University Press.
Dąbrowska, Ewa and Dagmar Divjak (eds.) (forthc.): Handbook of Cognitive
Linguistics. Berlin, New York: De Gruyter.

Divjak, Dagmar and Stefan Th. Gries (2006): Ways of Trying in Russian.
Clustering Behavioral Profiles. In: Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory 2
(1), 23–60.

Geeraerts, Dirk (2006): Methodology in Cognitive Linguistics. In: Gitte
Kristiansen, Michel Archard, René Dirven and Francisco J. de Ruiz Mendoza
Ibáñez (eds.): Cognitive Linguistics. Current Applications and Future
Perspectives. Berlin, New York: De Gruyter, 21–49.

Geeraerts, Dirk and Hubert Cuyckens (eds.) (2007a): The Oxford Handbook of
Cognitive Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Geeraerts, Dirk and Hubert Cuyckens (2007b): Introducing Cognitive
Linguistics. In: Dirk Geeraerts and Hubert Cuyckens (eds.): The Oxford
Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 3–21.

Grady, Joseph E. (1997): THEORIES ARE BUILDINGS revisited. In: Cognitive
Linguistics 8 (4), 267–290.

Hart, Christopher (forthc): Cognitive Linguistics and Critical Discourse
Analysis. In: Ewa Dąbrowska and Dagmar Divjak (eds.): Handbook of Cognitive
Linguistics. Berlin, New York: De Gruyter.

Heine, Bernd and Heiko Narrog (eds.) (2010): The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic
Analysis. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lakoff, George (1987): Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things. What Categories
Reveal about the Mind. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Lakoff, George and Mark Johnson (1980): Metaphors We Live By. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press.

Langacker, Ronald W. (1986): An Introduction to Cognitive Grammar. In:
Cognitive Science 10, 1–40.

Langacker, Ronald W. (1987): Foundations of Cognitive Grammar. Vol. 1.
Theoretical Prerequisites. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Levshina, Natalia, Dirk Geeraerts and Dirk Speelman (2013): Mapping
Constructional Spaces. A Contrastive Analysis of English and Dutch Analytic
Causatives. In: Linguistics 54 (1), 825–854.

Nathan, Geoffrey S. (2008): Phonology. A Cognitive Grammar Introduction.
Amsterdam, Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Robinson, Peter and Nick J. Ellis (eds.) (2008): Handbook of Cognitive
Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition. New York, London: Routledge.

Sweetser, Eve (1990): From Etymology to Pragmatics. Metaphorical and Cultural
Aspects of Semantic Structure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Taylor, John R. (2003): Linguistic Categorization. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford
University Press.

Talmy, Leonard (1988): Force Dynamics in Language and Cognition. In: Cognitive
Science 12, 49–100.

Tomasello, Michael (2003): Constructing a Language. A Usage-Based Theory of
Language Acquisition. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Winters, Margaret E. (2010): Introduction: On the Emergence of Diachronic
Cognitive Linguistics. In: Margaret E. Winters, Heli Tissari and Kathryn Allan
(eds.): Historical Cognitive Linguistics. Berlin, New York: De Gruyter, 3–27.

Zhong, Chen-Bo and Katie Liljenquist (2006): Washing Away Your Sins.
Threatened Morality and Physical Cleansing. In: Science 313, 1451–1452.

Zinken, Jörg, Iina Hellsten and Brigitte Nerlich (2008): Discourse Metaphors.
In: Roslyn M. Frank, René Dirven, Tom Ziemke and Enrique Bernárdez (eds.):
Body, Language and Mind. Vol. 2: Sociocultural Situatedness. Berlin, New York:
De Gruyter, 363–385.


Stefan Hartmann is currently a research assistant in historical linguistics at
the University of Mainz, Germany. His research interests include historical
and corpus linguistics, Cognitive Linguistics, sociolinguistics,
psycholinguistics, and the evolution of language.

Page Updated: 29-Jun-2015