Meaning in Mind and Society
The Social Turn in Cognitive LinguisticseBook - 2010
Meaning is embodied - but it is also social. If Cognitive Linguistics is to be a complete theory of language in use, it must cover the whole spectrum from grounded cognition to discourse struggles and bullshit. This book tries to show how.
Cognitive Linguistics knocked down the wall between language and the experiential content of the human mind. Frame semantics, embodiment, conceptual construal, figure-ground organization, metaphorical mapping, and mental spaces are among the results of this breakthrough, which at the same time provided cognitive science as a whole with an essential human dimension. A new phase began when Cognitive Linguistics started to see itself as part of the wider movement of 'usage-based' linguistics. Bringing about an alliance between mind and discourse, it complemented the conceptual dimension that had been dominant until then with a 'use' dimension - thereby living up to the explicit 'experiential' commitment of Cognitive Linguistics. This outward expansion is continuing: The focus on 'meaning construction', which began with the theory of blending, highlights emergent, online effects rather than underlying mappings. Cognitive Linguistics is integrating the evolutionary perspective, which links up individual and population-based features of language. The empirical obligations incurred by this expansion have led to greatly increased attention to corpus and experimental methods, especially in relation to sociolinguistic and language acquisition research.
The book describes this development and goes on to discuss the foundational challenge that it creates for Cognitive Linguistics as it begins to cover issues that are also central to types of discourse analysis focusing on social processes of determination. The book argues for a synthesis based on a renewed Cognitive Linguistics, which can accommodate everything from bodily grounding to deconstructible floating signifiers in an integrated complete picture, which also covers the roles of arbitrariness and structure.