Cognitive Linguistics
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In linguistics and cognitive science, cognitive linguistics (CL) refers to the school of linguistics that views the important essence of language as innately based in evolutionarily-developed and speciated faculties, and seeks explanations that advance or fit well into the current understandings of the human mind.

The guiding principle behind this area of linguistics is that language creation, learning, and usage must be explained by reference to human cognition in general —the basic underlying mental processes that apply not only to language, but to all other areas of human intelligence.

It assumes that language is both situated in a specific bioregion and that it is embodied. This can be considered a more developed form of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, in that not only are language and cognition mutually influential, but also embodied experience and environmental factors of the bioregion.

Areas of study[]

Cognitive linguistics is divided into two main areas of study, which are currently being reunified, as linguists have grown to understand their mutual interdependence:

  • Cognitive Semantics, dealing mainly with lexical semantics
  • cognitive approaches to grammar, dealing mainly with syntax, morphology and other traditionally more grammar-oriented areas.

Aspects of cognition that are of interest to cognitive linguists include:

Related work that interfaces with many of the above themes:

  • Computational models of metaphor and language acquisition.
  • Psycholinguistics research.
  • Conceptual Semantics, pursued by generative linguist Ray Jackendoff is related because of its active psychological realism and the incorporation of prototype structure and images.

Cognitive linguistics, more than generative linguistics, seek to mesh together these findings into a coherent whole. A further complication arises because the terminology of cognitive linguistics is not entirely stable, both because it is a relatively new field and because it interfaces with a number of other disciplines.


  • Taylor, J. R. (2002). Cognitive Grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Ungerer, F & Hans-Jörg Schmid (1996). An Introduction to Cognitive Linguistics. New York: Longman.
  • Croft, W. & D.A. Cruse (2004). Cognitive Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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See also[]

  • Cognitive science
  • List of cognitive scientistsLanguage Acquisition. Harvard University Press.

External links[]