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Applying Concepts from Cognitive Linguistics to Your Conlang.

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1 Applying Concepts from Cognitive Linguistics to Your Conlang

2 Overview What this presentation will cover –Why you should know about cognitive linguistics –Specific concepts with implications for conlanging: What this presentation will not cover –Detailed introduction to cognitive linguistics theory –Aspects of cognitive linguistics not immediately applicable to conlanging History & Basic Premises of Cognitive Linguistics available in handout

3 Why You Should Know About It Obtain deeper understanding of sub-conscious and semi-conscious structures of language Better ability to avoid inadvertently creating language structures which covertly parallel English (or your native languages) structures Opens up a whole new level of creativity in conlang design So, lets explore some cognitive linguistics…

4 Spatial Conceptualization Through sensory perception, bodily movement, and tactile interaction, infants learn to understand spatial relationships This pre-linguistic, fundamental knowledge of space, motion, and the senses becomes the foundation for structuring and understanding more abstract conceptual domains Spatial relationships are understood in terms of landmarks, trajectors, and image schemas

5 Spatial Conceptualization Landmark: entity with respect to which some other entity moves Trajector: entity that moves with respect to a (relatively) stationary landmark Image Schema: a recurring, dynamic pattern of our perceptual interactions and motor programs (Mark Johnson, 1987) i.e., an image schema is a generalized, primitive mental abstraction used in reasoning to associate percepts with concepts

6 Landmarks and Trajectors English prepositions dependent on landmark vs. trajector distinction 1a) I put my foot in(to) the stirrup. 1b) ?? I put my finger in(to) the ring. 2a) ?? I put the stirrup on my foot. 2b) I put the ring on my finger. 3a) I screwed the bulb into the socket. 3b) ?? I screwed the jar into the lid. 4a) ?? I screwed the socket onto the bulb. 4b) I screwed the lid onto the jar.

7 Image Schemas Common image schemas: CONTAINERBALANCECOMPULSION BLOCKAGECOUNTERFORCERESTRAINT REMOVALENABLEMENTATTRACTION MASS-COUNTPATHLINK CYCLENEAR-FARCENTER-PERIPHERY SCALEPART-WHOLEMERGING SPLITTINGFULL-EMPTYMATCHING ITERATIONCONTACTSUPERIMPOSITION PROCESSSURFACEOBJECT COLLECTIONSOURCEGOAL The above schemas map in various combinatory ways to specific prepositions, phrases, and other words in a language, e.g., English in = CONTAINER + CENTER-PERIPHERY (+ FULL-EMPTY); on = SURFACE+CONTACT (+ CENTER-PERIPHERY)+COUNTERFORCE

8 Image Schemas Help to explain seemingly contradictory or counter-intuitive usages of prepositions and particles, e.g., out: 1a) The sun is out.The sun came out. 1b) The light is out.The fire went out. 2a) Tom filled in the form. 2b) Tom filled out the form. 3a) The student dropped in this afternoon. 3b) The student dropped out this afternoon. 4a) A big crowd turned up for the rally. 4b) A big crowd turned out for the rally.

9 Image Schemas: out LM TR LM = landmark TR = trajector Image Schema for The sun came out. Image Schema for The fire went out. Identical Schema differentiated by perspective regarding accessibility :

10 Image Schemas: out Examples similar to the sun is/came out: –The news is out. –The secret is out. –She spoke out. –It turned out OK. –Ive sorted it out. Examples similar to the fire is/went out: –The noise drowned me out. –Shes blotted out the memory. –Hes hiding out. –Were out of gas. –Im tired out. Perspective on accessibility extended to ones cognitive field, rather than perceptual field:

11 Image Schemas & Conlanging Seemingly arbitrary usages of prepositions and particles now explicable 5a) Tom filled in the form. [ CONTAINER schema ] ( = form seen as set of containers being filled) 5b) Tom filled out the form. [ ADDITIVE schema ] ( = form seen as growing in size by adding information)

12 So, should my conlangs speakers say : –fill in a form ( CONTAINER + FULL/EMPTY schema), or fill out a form ( ADDITIVE schema) or some other schema(s) entirely? –Spots on or in a vase? How about of a vase? Wrinkles on or in her skin? How about at her skin? Bubbles on or at the surface? How about in? Pictures hanging on or from the wall? Off the wall? Determine what schema combinations can apply to various spatial and motion contexts, and how they map to your spatial-temporal lexemes Image Schemas & Conlanging

13 Representing schemas morphologically: –While image schemas are cognitively universal, the mapping to morphemes/lexemes or morpho-syntactic constructions is language-specific. –The resulting morphological constructions and/or lexemes are then extended to apply to non-spatial, even abstract concepts. What limitations or rules should you allow for such extensions? E.g., on time, in agony, that milk is off, my skills are at a new level –How about being under love, against agony or with time?

14 Image Schemas & Conlanging Consider (con-)cultural influences –e.g., the CONTAINER schema Baskets, the standard container observed by Zapotec infants, are used equally to cover things up as they are to put things in. Zapotec speakers equate semantic containment with both in and under lexico-morphology. –For alien, non-humanoid conlangs/concultures: Different sensory array/organs, different bodily symmetry/appendages entail totally different image schemas Beware of Terran schemas!

15 Construal: Iconicity Different word order = different construals –Distance Iconicity, e.g. ditransitive versus complement construction for indirect objects distinguishes recipient from directional goal –Resultative iconicity: 10a) Sam painted the white fence. 10b) Sam painted the fence white. –Sequential order iconicity, e.g., 11a) Eye it, try it, buy it. 11b) Buy it, eye it, try it. 12a) Jane got married and had a baby. 12b) Jane had a baby and got married.

16 Construal: Iconicity Application to Conlanging… –Examine your syntax! Have you inadvertently borrowed English (or your native languages) iconicity patterns? –Consider to what extent these patterns are universal and may be applied anyway –Consider morphology-based substitutes (e.g., resultative case or recipient-vs.-goal marking) –Consider substituting different word-order patterns or different pitch/tone/prosodic features

17 Construal: Perspective Same situation described from two different perspectives = different meanings, e.g., 13a) The path descends steeply into the valley. 13b) The path climbs steeply out of the valley. 14a) John bought the car from Mary. 14b) Mary sold the car to John. 15a) The pen is on the table. 15b) ??The table is under the pen. Sentence 15b implies pragmatic experience impacts semantic acceptability despite syntactical acceptability

18 Construal: Perspective Application to Conlanging… –Consider how/whether to formally represent perspective morpho-syntactically –Different verbal voice? Perspectivizer affixes or particles? Prosodic changes? Lexicon? –Remember how perspective can work with image schemas and spatial conceptualization, e.g., The sun is out versus The fire is out –Alien conlangs: why stop at binary perspective? Why not let tables be under pens?

19 Conceptual Metaphor Lakoff & Johnson (1980): Metaphors We Live By –Human beings structure their understanding of their experiences in the world via conceptual metaphors derived from basic sensorimotor and spatial concepts learned during infancy and early childhood. –Learned via interaction with external environment. –The process is largely subconscious. –These simpler, more basic concepts are used as a framework for conceptualizing more abstract experiences and situations. –Examples in Handout

20 Conceptual Metaphor Based on body symmetry/orientation, sensorimotor interaction, proprioception and emotional experience, we come to metaphorically conceive of ourselves and others as –more UP than DOWN –more FRONT than BACK –more ACTIVE than PASSIVE –more GOOD than BAD –more HERE than THERE –more NOW than THEN Implications for non-humanoid con-cultures/langs

21 Conceptual Metaphor Most conceptual metaphors are specific instances of more general metaphors: –STATES ARE LOCATIONS –CHANGES ARE MOVEMENTS –CAUSES ARE FORCES –ACTIONS ARE SELF-PROPELLED MOVEMENTS –PURPOSES ARE DESTINATIONS –ACTION IS DIRECTED MOTION Conceptual metaphor not only impacts speech but also how we think about situations. They are a powerful rhetorical device for social manipulation.

22 Conceptual Metaphor & Conlanging When translating, find the English conceptual metaphors. Decide whether to adopt, substitute, or avoid them entirely. Any domain of experience which can be cognitively mapped onto another logically is fair game. Dont violate pre-linguistic bodily-based metaphors arbitrarily ( UP, FRONT, ACTIVE, GOOD, HERE, NOW ). On the other hand, if your speakers are non- humanoid, you should rethink your bodily-based metaphors.

23 Conceptual Metaphor & Conlanging Think up metaphors whose underlying conceptual logic matches your con-culture or the psyche of your speakers, e.g., LOVE IS DANCINGLOVE IS DEFUSING A BOMB MEMORIES ARE DISEASESGOD IS THE SEA THE FAMILY IS A JUNGLELOVE IS A SCHOOL THE FUTURE IS A JESTER LIFE IS MUSIC A PROJECT IS A PREGNANCY LIFE IS WAR SEX IS ARTEMOTIONS ARE ZOO ANIMALS SEX IS WEATHERTHE MIND IS A LIVING BODY SEEING IS EATINGCOMMERCE IS SEDUCTION CRIME IS A CIRCUSANGER IS A HOSPITAL

24 Categorization & Prototypes Human categorization schemes are arbitrary Human categorization criteria based on fuzzy logic, not classical set theory Categorization schemes utilize prototypes – membership is relative to a best example Radial categories: No single prototype; no single member contains all attributes of the set, e.g., Wittgensteins spiel (game) Examples: furniture, fruit, tall vs. short

25 Categorization & Prototypes Examples from Linguistic Morphology Suffix: -able Prototype meaning: able to be Xd e.g., washable Atypical examples: e.g., readable, drinkable (books able to be read or liquids able to be drunk are, pragmatically-speaking, near-tautologies) Diminutive in Romance Languages: Prototype meaning: small-sized X e.g., Italian paesino < paese Atypical examples: cenetta; mammina; sinfonietta; piogerella; dormicchiare (small-sized mothers, tiny raindrops or miniature plates of food are irrelevant)

26 Categorization & Prototypes Implications for Conlangers –What will be the semantic range of a particular morphological category? –E.g., should my DIMINUTIVE cover the areas of size, endearment, scale, intensity, temporal brevity, and bodily impact as in Romance languages? –What about a different semantic range? E.g.,speak + DIMINUTIVE = to speak inanities orspeak + DIMINUTIVE = to lie; tell a falsehood

27 Categorization & Prototypes Implications for Conlangers –Consider whether the particular worldview or psychology of your con-culture warrants different categorization boundaries/constraints –Go beyond mere differences in common semantic areas (e.g., color categorization); consider realms such as: Verb tenses or aspects (e.g., circular time, phases) Lexical classes (e.g., gender, declensions, etc.) Syntactic relations / semantic roles / noun cases Lexico-semantic taxonomies

28 Frame Semantics The subconscious meaning of a given word goes well beyond its dictionary definition Most words are associated with a culture-specific frame, an archetypical context or default mental model that provides immediate access to/recognition of pre- ordained related concepts and lexemes, e.g., EAT subconsciously entails food, silverware, kitchens, cooking utensils, ovens, cups and plates, packages, jars and cans, restaurants, menus, desserts, even abstract concepts such as hunger, famine, nutrition, etc. The subconscious frame helps determine semantic acceptability, e.g. *The rock ate the candy bar.

29 Frame Semantics Frames demonstrate that meanings of words are not feature-based, e.g., are the following persons bachelors? = [+MALE] [+ADULT][-MARRIED] –The Pope –Tarzan –A man living with his longtime girlfriend –A gay man living with his longtime boyfriend Frames connote an entire network of cultural information – excellent opportunity for integration with your conculture

30 Frame Semantics Frames involve interactional properties not inherent within the word itself, e.g. fake + gun –Must look like a real gun (you cant use a dish-towel as a fake gun), i.e., fake preserves a perceptual property –Purpose must allow it to be handled like a real gun (e.g., as threat), i.e. fake preserves a motor-activity property –Must serve some purposes of a real gun (e.g., threat, for display), i.e. fake preserves a purposive property –It cant shoot bullets, i.e., fake negates the primary functional property –It cannot have once been real (a broken gun is not a fake gun), i.e., it negates a historical property

31 Frame Semantics These interactional properties emerge from the juxtaposition of fake + gun These five properties (perceptual, motor-activity, purposive, functional, and historical) operate as an experiential gestalt Another example: KILLING entails… –CAUSE OF DEATH, INSTRUMENT, METHOD, PERPETRATOR, VICTIM, DEGREE, MANNER, PLACE, PURPOSE, REASON, RESULT Frames for English listed on FrameNet website

32 Frame Semantics & Conlanging Determine scope of each words frame –Should it parallel English? –Should some elements be missing? (e.g., historical property of gun) –Should I add some elements missing from English? e.g., adding BODY PART to the KILLING frame to allow sentences translatable as He stomached him to death or I throat-killed him. Common frames lend themselves to conlang- specific creativity, e.g., BUSINESS/COMMERCE, ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS, FOOD/EATING, FAMILY, EDUCATION, POLITICS, TRANSPORTATION

33 Questions?


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