Research topic: Cognitive linguistics

In recent decades, cognitive linguistics has evolved to become one of the dominant branches of modern linguistics, existing both in parallel with and in opposition to other branches including generative linguistics in its various forms.

Cognitive linguistics is based on the hypothesis that the structure of world's languages – which number close to 7,000 – can be explained on the basis of general psychological, physiological and anatomical human characteristics.

These general characteristics do not only concern language. They form a basis for everything that makes us human in our ways of thinking, culture and behaviour. Completely central to this is our ability to categorise, compare, generalise and associate – and to master best the things we do frequently.

While generative linguists postulate a brain that has a separate and clearly distinct "language module", cognitive linguists postulate a brain in which language is not separate from other cognitive phenomena.

Cognitive linguistics is a collective term for several theories – including cognitive grammar, construction grammar, mental space theory, cognitive metaphor theory and grammaticalisation theory.

Cognitive linguists research all linguistic phenomena – semantics, syntax, morphology, phonology and so forth – but the core research area is semantics. When all is said and done, language is about meaning. For example, it seems pointless to research syntax without any consideration of semantic issues.

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Published Feb. 8, 2013 11:16 AM - Last modified July 1, 2016 11:10 AM