Force Dynamics

Walter De Mulder

in The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780199738632
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Force Dynamics

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“Force dynamics” is a schematic system that pertains to the linguistic representation of force interactions and causal relations occurring between certain entities within the structured situation. It was first defined by Leonard Talmy as a fundamental semantic category in the realm of physical force and is viewed in particular as a generalization over the linguistic notion of “causative.” Metaphorical transfers subsequently generalize force-dynamic conceptions to the domains of internal psychological relationships and social interactions. As such, for instance, the system of English modals is analyzed in force-dynamic terms before it is shown how force dynamics also partially structures discourse and argumentation. This article summarizes findings of some studies engendered by the notion of force dynamics, including one that incorporated force dynamics in conceptual semantics, and others dealing with modal verbs in cognitive linguistics. It also discusses how comparable notions such as energy transfer can be usefully employed in the definition of grammatical categories such as “subject” and “object” and in the analysis of syntactic structure.

Keywords: Leonard Talmy; force dynamics; semantics; modal verbs; cognitive linguistics; energy transfer; syntactic structure; causal relations; causative; grammatical categories

Article.  9236 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Cognitive Linguistics

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