Presentation on theme: "Applying Concepts from Cognitive Linguistics to Your Conlang"— Presentation transcript:
1 Applying Concepts from Cognitive Linguistics to Your Conlang
2 Overview What this presentation will cover Why you should know about cognitive linguisticsSpecific concepts with implications for conlanging:What this presentation will not coverDetailed introduction to cognitive linguistics theoryAspects of cognitive linguistics not immediately applicable to conlangingHistory & 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 languageBetter ability to avoid inadvertently creating language structures which covertly parallel English (or your native language’s) structuresOpens up a whole new level of creativity in conlang designSo, let’s explore some cognitive linguistics…
4 Spatial Conceptualization Through sensory perception, bodily movement, and tactile interaction, infants learn to understand spatial relationshipsThis pre-linguistic, fundamental knowledge of space, motion, and the senses becomes the foundation for structuring and understanding more abstract conceptual domainsSpatial relationships are understood in terms of landmarks, trajectors, and image schemas
5 Spatial Conceptualization Landmark: entity with respect to which some other entity movesTrajector: entity that moves with respect to a (relatively) stationary landmarkImage 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 distinction1a) 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: CONTAINER BALANCE COMPULSION BLOCKAGE COUNTERFORCE RESTRAINT REMOVAL ENABLEMENT ATTRACTION MASS-COUNT PATH LINK CYCLE NEAR-FAR CENTER-PERIPHERY SCALE PART-WHOLE MERGING SPLITTING FULL-EMPTY MATCHING ITERATION CONTACT SUPERIMPOSITION PROCESS SURFACE OBJECT COLLECTION SOURCE GOALThe 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 SchemasHelp 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”LMTRLM = landmark TR = trajectorIdentical Schema differentiated by perspective regarding accessibility :Image Schema for “The sun came out.”Image Schema for “The fire went out.”
10 Image Schemas: “out”Perspective on accessibility extended to one’s cognitive field, rather than perceptual field:Examples similar to “the sun is/came out”:The news is out.The secret is out.She spoke out.It turned out OK.I’ve sorted it out.Examples similar to “the fire is/went out”:The noise drowned me out.She’s blotted out the memory.He’s hiding out.We’re out of gas.I’m tired out.
11 Image Schemas & Conlanging Seemingly arbitrary usages of prepositions and particles now explicable5a) 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 Image Schemas & Conlanging So, should my conlang’s 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
13 Image Schemas & Conlanging 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 influencese.g., the CONTAINER schemaBaskets, 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 goalResultative 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 b) 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 language’s) iconicity patterns?Consider to what extent these patterns are universal and may be applied anywayConsider 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-syntacticallyDifferent 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 outAlien 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 MetaphorBased on body symmetry/orientation, sensorimotor interaction, proprioception and emotional experience, we come to metaphorically conceive of ourselves and others asmore UP than DOWNmore FRONT than BACKmore ACTIVE than PASSIVEmore GOOD than BADmore HERE than THEREmore NOW than THENImplications for non-humanoid con-cultures/ langs
21 Conceptual MetaphorMost conceptual metaphors are specific instances of more general metaphors:STATES ARE LOCATIONSCHANGES ARE MOVEMENTSCAUSES ARE FORCESACTIONS ARE SELF-PROPELLED MOVEMENTSPURPOSES ARE DESTINATIONSACTION IS DIRECTED MOTIONConceptual 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.Don’t 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 DANCING LOVE IS DEFUSING A BOMBMEMORIES ARE DISEASES GOD IS THE SEATHE FAMILY IS A JUNGLE LOVE IS A SCHOOLTHE FUTURE IS A JESTER LIFE IS MUSICA PROJECT IS A PREGNANCY LIFE IS WARSEX IS ART EMOTIONS ARE ZOO ANIMALSSEX IS WEATHER THE MIND IS A LIVING BODYSEEING IS EATING COMMERCE IS SEDUCTIONCRIME IS A CIRCUS ANGER IS A HOSPITAL
24 Categorization & Prototypes Human categorization schemes are arbitraryHuman categorization criteria based on “fuzzy” logic, not classical set theoryCategorization 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., Wittgenstein’s “spiel” (game)Examples: “furniture”, “fruit,” “tall” vs. “short”
25 Categorization & Prototypes Examples from Linguistic MorphologySuffix: “-able” Prototype meaning: “able to be X’d” 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 < paeseAtypical examples: cenetta; mammina; sinfonietta; piogerella; dormicchiare (small-sized mothers, tiny raindrops or miniature plates of food are irrelevant)
26 Categorization & Prototypes Implications for ConlangersWhat 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” or “speak” + DIMINUTIVE = “to lie; tell a falsehood”
27 Categorization & Prototypes Implications for ConlangersConsider whether the particular worldview or psychology of your con-culture warrants different categorization boundaries/constraintsGo 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 casesLexico-semantic taxonomies
28 Frame SemanticsThe subconscious “meaning” of a given word goes well beyond its dictionary definitionMost 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 SemanticsFrames demonstrate that meanings of words are not feature-based, e.g., are the following persons bachelors? = [+MALE] [+ADULT][-MARRIED]The PopeTarzanA man living with his longtime girlfriendA gay man living with his longtime boyfriendFrames connote an entire network of cultural information – excellent opportunity for integration with your conculture
30 Frame SemanticsFrames involve interactional properties not inherent within the word itself, e.g. “fake” + “gun”Must look like a real gun (you can’t use a dish-towel as a “fake gun”), i.e., “fake” preserves a perceptual propertyPurpose must allow it to be handled like a real gun (e.g., as threat), i.e. “fake” preserves a motor-activity propertyMust serve some purposes of a real gun (e.g., threat, for display), i.e. “fake” preserves a purposive propertyIt can’t shoot bullets, i.e., “fake” negates the primary functional propertyIt cannot have once been real (a broken gun is not a “fake gun”), i.e., it negates a historical property
31 Frame SemanticsThese interactional properties “emerge” from the juxtaposition of “fake” + “gun”These five properties (perceptual, motor-activity, purposive, functional, and historical) operate as an experiential gestaltAnother example: “KILLING” entails…CAUSE OF DEATH, INSTRUMENT, METHOD, PERPETRATOR, VICTIM, DEGREE, MANNER, PLACE, PURPOSE, REASON, RESULTFrames for English listed on FrameNet website
32 Frame Semantics & Conlanging Determine scope of each word’s frameShould 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
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