chapter  43
Cognitive linguistics
ByHans-Jörg Schmid, Friedrich Ungerer
Pages 14

Like many other notions in linguistics, the term cognitive linguistics is used in a number of ways. What may be special about this notion, however, is that two competing and in many respects incompatible approaches to the study of language go by the same name. While these two approaches share the idea that linguists should consider psychological aspects of speakers’ knowledge about language (cf. the Latin cognoscere ‘(get to) know’) rather than merely describe linguistic behaviour, they differ with regard to how they explain the nature and sources of this knowledge. The first view, very much associated with Chomsky and known as generative grammar (cf. Wakabayashi, this volume), sees knowledge about language – i.e. linguistic competence – as a very special human ability which is not, or only remotely, related to other cognitive faculties such as perception, attention or memory. The second view of cognitive linguistics takes a completely different perspective and emphasizes the experiential nature of linguistic competence. It is this approach, and its vision of explaining the cognitive foundations of linguistic structure and usage, that this chapter will be concerned with. In this account, knowledge about linguistic structures is explained with recourse to our knowledge about the world, and it is assumed that language both reflects and contributes to shaping this knowledge. Introduced by linguists such as Fillmore, Lakoff, Langacker and Talmy in key publications in the 1980s, this notion of cognitive linguistics is today represented, for example, by the International Cognitive Linguistics Association (ICLA) and in the papers published in the journal Cognitive Linguistics.