Cognitive Grammar by yurtgc548


									Lecture 4                  18 Oct., 2005

            Cognitive Grammar

                          Helena Gao
Required readings:
 Langacker, R. (l998). Conceptualization, symbolization and grammar.
  In M.Tomasello(ed.) The New Psychology of Language. Lawrence
  Erlbaum Associates, Publishes. pp. 1-39
 Hsieh, Hsin-I. (2005 to appear). Toward a Global Grammar of
  Chinese, Language And Linguistics Monograph Series Number W-3, 1-17.
  Papers In Honor Of Professor William S-Y. Wang On His
  Seventieth Birthday.

Recommended readings:
 Pinker, S. (1994). The Language Instinct. New York: Morrow. Chapter
   4: How language works. pp. 83-125; Chapter 10: Language organs
   and grammar genes. pp. 297-331
 Goldberg, A. E. (2004). But do we need Universal Grammar?
   Comment on Lidz et al. (2003) Cognition 94. 77-84
 Fillmore, C., Kay, P., & O’Connor, M. C. (2003). Regularity and
   Idiomaticity in Grammatical Constructions: The Case of Let Alone.
   In M. Tomasello (ed.), The new psychology of language: Cognitive and
   functional approaches to language structure, Vol. 2. NJ, US: Lawrence
   Erlbaum Associates, Publishers. pp. 243-270                           2
    Cognitive approaches to grammar
   Theories of grammar that relate grammar to mental processes and
    structures in human cognition. (Wikipedia Encyclopedia by Sergei Starostin,

   Noam Chomsky and his fellow generative grammarians
        Grammar is an autonomous mental faculty
        It is governed by mental processes operating on mental representations of
         different kinds of symbols that apply only within this faculty.

   Proponents of cognitive linguistics
        Grammar is not an autonomous mental faculty with processes of its own, but
         it is intertwined with all other cognitive processes and structures.
        The basic claim is that grammar is conceptualization.
        Some of the theories that fall within this paradigm
             e,.g., construction grammar, cognitive grammar, and word grammar.

    Cognitive approaches to grammar -
            Guiding Principles

   The symbolic thesis:
        The basic unit of a grammar is a form-meaning
         pairing termed variously a symbolic assembly in
         Langacker’s Cognitive Grammar or a construction
         in a construction grammar.

A symbolic unit

The relationship between
semantic, phonological and
symbolic units

    Cognitive approaches to grammar -
            Guiding Principles

   The usage-based thesis:
        There is an intimate relationship between the grammar
         (defined as the mental repository of symbolic units), and
         language use.

The Cognitive Model of Grammar (Langacker 1987: 77)

Distinct Cognitive Approaches to the Study of Grammar

   ‘Inventory-based’ theories
     Cognitive Grammar
     Construction Grammar
         Fillmore and Key’s Construction Grammar
         Goldberg’s Construction Grammar
         Embodied Construction Grammar
         Radical Construction Grammar

   ‘Grammatical subsystem-based’ theories
     The theory of Conceptual Structuring Systems
     Grammaticalisation Theory
Inventory-based approaches to grammar
- An overview of distinct cognitive linguistic theories of grammar

    Characteristics of the Cognitive Approach to

   The ultimate aim of a cognitive approach is to
    model speaker knowledge in ways which are
    consistent with the two key commitments
    which underlie the cognitive linguistics

   Generalisation Commitment
       a commitment to the characterisation of general
        principles which are responsible for all aspects of
        human language
            Categorisation, polysemy, metaphor

   Cognitive Commitment
       a commitment to providing a characterisation of
        general principles for language which accords with
        what is known about the mind and brain from other
            Attention, categorization, metaphor

    The Generalization Commitment
   Lexicology: e.g., Over
        a. The picture is over the sofa [‘above’]
        b. The picture is over the hole [‘covering’]
        c. The ball is over the wall [‘on-the-other-side-of’]
        d. The government handed over power [‘transfer’]
   e. She has a strange power over me [‘control’]
   Morphology: e.g., Agentive –er Suffix
        a. teacher
        b. villager
        c. toaster
        d. best-seller
   Syntax: e.g., Ditransitive construction
        Subject Verb Object 1 Object 2

        The Cognitive Commitment
   Attention
     The boy kicks over the vase [ACTIVE]
     The vase is kicked over [PASSIVE]

     The vase smashes into bits [SUBJECT-VERB-
     The vase is in bits [SUBJECT-COPULA-

Basic Concepts of Langacker’s Cognitive
Grammar: An Overview

   1) Attention: “…attention is intrinsically
    associated with the intensity or energy level of
    cognitive processes, which translates
    experientially into greater prominence or
    salience” (Langacker, 1987: 115)

Focal adjustments:
   Linguistic expressions relate to conceived situations or
   The concepts employed to structure conceived
    situations can vary along three parameters: selection,
    perspective and abstraction.
       Such variation is termed focal adjustment
   By choosing particular focal adjustments and hence
    organising a scene in a particular way, through
    language, the speaker or hearer provides a particular
    construal of the scene in question

The relationship between focal adjustments
and construal

Focal adjustments of selection determine which
  aspects of a scene are being dealt with:

   i) Conceptual Domains: a body of knowledge
    within our conceptual system that contains and
    organizes related ideas and experiences

Basic conceptual domains (Langacker, 1987)

Basic Domain    Pre-conceptual Basis
 SPACE          Vision, touch, kinaesthesia

 COLOUR         Vision

 PITCH          Hearing

 TEMPERATURE    Touch, somesthesia

 PRESSURE       Touch, kinaesthesia, somesthesia

 PAIN           Touch, somesthesia

 ODOUR          Smell

 TIME           Temporal awareness

 EMOTION        Affective system

   a. The tree is quite close to the garage [spatial]
   b. It’s already close to Christmas       [temporal]

   c. The paint is close to the blue we want for the
    dining room                            [colour]

   d. Steve and his sister are very close   [emotion]

   ii) Profiling: the conceptualisation designated
    by a linguistic utterance constitutes its profile, a
    focal point. However, a particular focal point is
    always prominent with respect to a particular
    context. This constitutes profile/base

   a) Open class subsystem
       e.g., Profile-base organisation for elbow

   b) Closed class subsystem
       John hit the ball

       The ball was hit

Perspective relates to the position from which a scene is
  viewed, with consequences fro the relative prominence
  of its participants

   i) Trajector and landmark: In an action chain,
    trajector (TR)/Landmark (LM)
       Organisation relates to the participants in a profiled
       While the TR constitutes the focal participant, the landmark
        constitutes the secondary.

   a. The boy hit the ball [active]
   b. The ball was hit by the boy [passive]

                         “boy” “ball”

    TR-LM organisation relates to subject/object distinction.

            An instance of the more general phenomenon
                    of figure-ground organisation:

ii) Viewpoint: The perspective and orientation taken on a scene provides a different way of
construing it, e.g., from the perspective of the agent or patient as in active/passive distinction
 Abstraction relates to the degree of specificity at
 which a scene is portrayed.

   a. The basketball player is tall
   b. The basketball player is over six feet tall
   c. The basketball player is about six feet five inches
   d. The basketball player is exactly six feet five and
    one half inches tall

        Some concepts in Langacker’s
          cognitive grammar (1991)

   “Force-dynamics”
     “Active zone”
     “energy flow”,

     “energy source”

     “energy sink”

Examples in Chinese- the verb da

                     Gao, 2001: 27
Gao, 2001: 27
Gao, 2001: 27
Gao, 2001: 31

Gao, 2001: 181
Gao, 2001: 181

Gao, 2001: 181

Different Scenarios of da qiu

Physical Contact and Social Interaction

                               Gao, 2001: 131
Gao, 2001: 131
   Human cognitive system is built up on the basis
    of a whole complex structure but on the surface
    level of linguistic structures details are
    backgrounded or visualized only in the brain but
    not explicitly expressed in speech. (Gao, 2001:


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