Cognitive Grammar

Ronald W. Langacker

in The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Cognitive Grammar

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  • Linguistics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology
  • Semantics



Research leading to the formulation of cognitive grammar began in the spring of 1976. On the American theoretical scene, it was the era of the “linguistics wars” between generative semantics and interpretive semantics. With generative semantics, cognitive grammar shares only the general vision of treating semantics, lexicon, and grammar in a unified way. Cognitive grammar is part of the wider movement that has come to be known as cognitive linguistics, which, in turn, belongs to the broad and diverse functionalist tradition. It is strongly functional, granted that the two basic functions of language are symbolic (allowing conceptualizations to be symbolized by sounds and gestures) and communicative/interactive. The symbolic function is directly manifested in the very architecture of cognitive grammar, which posits only symbolic structures for the description of lexicon, morphology, and syntax. In principle, cognitive grammar embraces phonology to the same extent as any other facet of linguistic structure. To date, however, there have been few attempts to articulate the framework's phonological pole or apply it descriptively.

Keywords: cognitive grammar; semantics; lexicon; cognitive linguistics; symbolic structures; morphology; syntax; phonology; linguistic structure

Article.  19352 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology ; Semantics

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