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29. Pragmatics and Cognitive Linguistics

GILLES FAUCONNIER


Subject Theoretical Linguistics » Pragmatics

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631225485.2005.00031.x


Extract

As we start a new century, rich and diverse evidence from the social and cognitive sciences continues to provide an ever sharper conception of the way we humans think. It is now widely understood that brains and cultures play a major role in constructing the world as we see it. They are not, and we are not, passive interpreters of that world. Distinctive and powerful cognitive capacities such as analogy, framing, metaphor, schematization, recursion, reference-point organization, and conceptual blending lie at the heart of perception, conception, and action, and suffuse our lives with rich meaning - sometimes unbearably rich meaning. For the most part, the operations and processes that correspond to those powerful capacities are carried out massively below the level of our consciousness. Language, which we do experience consciously through sound, gesture, or writing, is a spectacular but far from transparent window into this backstage cognition of our minds. Conversely, many of the seemingly complicated, irregular, and “illogical” properties of language structures become intelligible when their cognitive underpinnings are discovered. In everyday life, when we use or hear words in a language we know, in a culture we know, meanings form instantly. Consciously, we experience words, word combinations, and the automatic sensation of knowing what they mean. Quite naturally, we feel that ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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