【Cognitive Linguistics】The Establishment of Cognitive Linguistics


In this section, the background of the establishment of cognitive linguistics is lightly described in accordance with Ohori (2002). He is also my current supervisor. What circumstances led to the establishment of cognitive linguistics? Let us take a look at it.


The original input was anthropology-influenced linguistics, as represented by Franz Boaz and Edward Sapir. The philosophy of linguistic relativism, which sheds light on the relationship between culture and language, is often in harmony with the linguistic perspective of cognitive linguistics.

Under the influence of anthropology, American structuralist linguistics was born. It discarded meaning and placed the analysis of form as its primary task. Language was regarded as autonomous and independent of human knowledge and ability.

At the end of the 1950s, Noam Chomsky’s generative grammar(See ; Chomsky(1957,1965) replaced American structuralist linguistics. It was successful in redefining language as human knowledge and systematizing syntax through mathematical models. However, it did not differ from structural linguistics in that it disregarded meaning and regarded linguistic knowledge as autonomous and unrelated to other knowledge.

In the late 1980s, George Lakoff and Ronald W. Langacker were the theoretical leaders, producing important results that led to the formation of the International Association for Cognitive Linguistics in 1990. In 1990, they formed the International Society of Cognitive Linguistics(ICLC).


Another source of influence in cognitive linguistics was the rise of linguistic typology in the late 1970s. Through the comparison and contrast of languages, interest in the motivations behind linguistic rules grew and stimulated cognitive linguistics.

Today, cognitive linguistics is positioned as a field encompassed within the broader field of cognitive science. There are also various positions within the field, and some people wonder whether the field can be grouped under a single name. However, it has been having a considerable impact on historical linguistics and language change theory, and there is no doubt that it is forming a trend.

Ohori, Toshio. “Cognitive Linguistics,” The University of Tokyo Press, 2002.

The above-mentioned Ohori(2002) is written in Japanese, however, this book was translated in Chinese recently.