Cognitive Approaches

Universals and variation in language

Cognitive linguistics claims that there are general cognitive principles that are true for all humans and that might therefore be somehow reflected in the languages of the world. Furthermore, it supposes that embodiment will lead to fundamentally similar experiences shared by all humans. However, it does not claim, that the languages of the world share a set of universal grammatical structures, a basic universal grammar, innately given. Similarily, Cognitive Linguisits do not consider language-inherent structures manifest in an innate universal grammer, that would apply to all languages. Rather, they concentrate on whether there are common pattern across languages and on investigating general cognitive principles that are true for all human beings.

What, after all, are general cognitive principles, apparently shared by all humans that might somehow be reflected in language? Do they truly apply to all the languages of the world? In how far do languages in relation to cognitive principles vary? Might speakers of different languages have different underlying conceptual systems?

These questions will ultimately lead us to the still very heated discussion on linguistic relativity hypothesis which claims that the language we speak influences the way we think.

Linguistic typology and typological universals
Universals in formal linguistics
Universals in cognitive linguistics
Do we think the way we speak?
Linguistic Relativity

Language in use