By Kamil Wiśniewski Aug 17th, 2007

Cognitive linguistics is still a very young discipline which had its beginnings in the 1970s, and whose quick development and extension of investigated issues dates to the mid-1980s. Since then the scope of interest of this branch of science started to include various areas such as syntax, discourse, phonology and semantics, all of which are looked upon as the representation of conceptual organization in language.

Probably the most developed idea that emerged from cognitive linguists’ efforts is that of the cognitive grammar. The aim of cognitive grammar is to formulate a theory of meaning and grammar which would be cognitively probable and would fulfill the following requirements that the only structures allowed in the grammar are:

  • Symbolic, semantic, or phonological structures usually occurring in linguistic expressions (Saussurean ‘sign’)
  • Schemas for such structures (acquired by exposure to multiple examples of the pattern)
  • Categorization of relationships among the above mentioned elements.

Apart from that, cognitive linguistics is interested in issues such as processes by which and patterns in which conceptual content is arranged in language. Therefore, the structuring of concepts like scenes and events, space and time, force and causation, together with motion and location attract the cognitive linguists’ interest. Moreover, the ideational and affective categories ascribed to cognitive agents such as expectation and affect, volition and intention, as well as attention and perspective are examined.

By and large, the cognitive linguists’ intentions are to ascertain the integrated organization of conceptual structuring in language by approaching such issues as the semantic structure of lexical and morphological forms, together with syntactic patterns. Also interrelationships of conceptual structures, as in the gathering of conceptual categories into large structuring systems are investigated.

Brown K. (Editor) 2005. Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics – 2nd Edition. Oxford: Elsevier.
Wilson R. A. (Editor) 1999. The MIT encyclopedia of cognitive sciences. London: The MIT Press.

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