Article published in:Culture – Language – Cognition
Edited by Marcelo Dascal †
[Pragmatics & Cognition 20:2] 2012
► pp. 275–294
Linguistic fire and human cognitive powers
To view language as a cultural tool challenges much of what claims to be linguistic science while opening up a new people-centred linguistics. On this view, how we speak, think and act depends on, not just brains (or minds), but also cultural traditions. Yet, Everett is conservative: like others trained in distributional analysis, he reifies ‘words’. Though rejecting inner languages and grammatical universals, he ascribes mental reality to a lexicon. Reliant as he is on transcriptions, he takes the cognitivist view that brains represent word-forms. By contrast, in radical embodied cognitive theory, bodily dynamics themselves act as cues to meaning. Linguistic exostructures resemble tools that constrain how people concert acting-perceiving bodies. The result is unending renewal of verbal structures: like artefacts and institutions, they function to sustain a species-specific cultural ecology. As Ross (2007) argues, ecological extensions make human cognition hypersocial. When we link verbal patterns with lived experience, we communicate and cognise by fitting action/perception to cultural practices that anchor human meaning making.
Keywords: cognitive niche, distributed cognition, Biosemiotics, cognitive linguistics, skilled linguistic action, linguistic relativism, distributed language, mental lexicon, Pirahã
Published online: 18 February 2013
Cited by 2 other publications
Steffensen, Sune Vork, Frédéric Vallée-Tourangeau & Gaëlle Vallée-Tourangeau
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