Prototype theory

download report

Transcript Prototype theory

An introduction to Cognitive Linguistics
• What is cognitive linguistics?
-- Cognitive linguistics: the study of the relationship between
language and cognitive processing in the human brain.
-- It argues that language is governed by general cognitive
principles, rather than by a special-purpose language
Cognitive linguistics is taken here to refer to the approach to
the study of language that began to emerge in the 1970s and
has been increasingly active since the 1980s.
Three major hypotheses as guiding the cognitive linguistic
approach to language:
• language is not an autonomous cognitive faculty
• grammar is conceptualization
• knowledge of language emerges from language use
Chomskyan linguistics about the mind:
-- the mind is modular and has its initial structure.
-- linguistic knowledge is distinct from conceptual knowledge,
social cognition, interpersonal skills, math abilities, music
abilities, abilities to reason and so on.
Introduction: Schools in CL
• West coast of America
• Two major Schools:
1. Berkerly: Fillmore, P. Kay (Frame Semantics, Cognitive
2. San Diego: Langacker, Fauconnier, Coulson, etc.
(Cognitive Grammar, Conceptual Integration)
Introduction: CL in China
• 赵元任 《汉语口语语法》1979 认为应由意义出发
• 早期介绍:文旭,石毓智,王寅,赵艳芳等
• 目前:研究者众,沈家煊,束定芳,徐盛桓等大家
Cognitive linguistic ways of approaching
• Experiential view
• Prominence view
• Attentional view
The three interlocking ways of approaching
language via its relation to the world around us,
describe the core areas of CL
Experiential view
• Describe a “car”.
Experiential view
• Attributes including associations and impressions
which are part of our experience are used.
• “Tom broke the window, So Dad exploded.”
Prominence view
• Describe the picture.
Prominence view
• The Prominence view explains the selection and
arrangement of the information expressed in a
• e.g. the clause subject
Attentional view
• “The car crashed into the tree.”
Attentional view
• Analyzing the sentence in terms of attention
allocation, the attentional view explains why one
stage of the event is expressed in the sentence
and why other stages are not.
Categorization and Category
• Have you seen a tree?
• I bet that strictly speaking you haven’t!
Categorization and Category
• The same is true with the with the word dog.
Categorization and Category
• A dog (or a tree) stands for all the
characteristics of the species it refers to.
• The special term for this phenomenon is
called category.
• The process of classification is called
Categorization and Category
• Categorization occurs everywhere around us,
without which a lot of information would be in
• e.g. Categorization of student
Categorization of color
Two Theories for Categorization
What principles do people use when they
do categorizing?
1) Classical theory
2) Prototype theory
The classical theory
• Four assumptions:
1) A thing cannot both have a feature and not have it, it cannot
both belong to a category and not belong to it.
e.g. a bird
2)Features a are binary.
e.g. bird: [+ two legs] but [-four legs]
3)Categories have clear boundaries.
e.g. bird V.S. beast
4) All members of a category have equal status.
e.g. The sparrow is not a better member than the ostrich in
the BIRD category.
The classical theory
• The classical theory dominated for a long time.
• But when it has to describe categories with good
and bad members or fuzzy boundaries, it is found
that things in the world are much too complex for a
theory as neat as the classical theory.
• e.g. Do ostriches and penguins belong to the BIRD
Prototype theory
• Graded centrality
• Not all members of a category have the same status within the
category. People have intuitions that some category members are
better examples of the category than others. Members that are judged
to be the best examples of a category can be considered to be the most
central in the category.
• There has been a considerable amount of experimental work by
cognitive psychologists on the notion of Goodness-Of-Exemplar
(henceforward GOE).
• The most basic experiment:
Prototype theory
GOE rating
• Combining the results from a large number of subjects allows the
identification of the best examples of categories: these are typically
referred to as the prototypes or prototypical members of the
Prototype theory
• Color terms such as red constituted the starting-point for
prototypical research; drawing on the views developed in Berlin and
Kay (1969), Rosch’s earliest work is an experimental demonstration
of the fact that
1) the borderline between different colors is fuzzy (there is no single
line in the spectrum where red stops and orange begins),
2) each color term is psychologically represented by focal colors (some
hues are experienced as better reds than others) (Heider 1972;
Heider and Olivier 1972).
Prototype theory
• Focal colors/basic color terms
• According to the experiment conducted by Berlin and Kay
(1969), a particular set of color terms met the following
• 1)They should consist of just one word of native origin, as opposed to
greenish-blue or turquoise.
• 2)Their application should not be restricted to a narrow class of objects,
as opposed to English and German blond.
• 3) They should come to mind readily and should be familiar to all or at
least to most speakers of a language, as opposed to vermilion(朱红色).
Prototype theory
The prototype theory can
1) explain how people deal with atypical examples of a category.
e.g. unbirdy birds.
2) explain how people deal with damaged examples.
e.g. one-winged robin
3) work for actions as well as objects.
e.g. kill: murder/execute/suicide
Levels of categorization
• Prototype theory also provides an account of levels of
categorization. Categories occur at different levels of
a. vehicle – car – hatchback
• b. fruit – apple – Granny Smith
• c. animal – dog – spaniel
• d. cutlery – knife – bread knife
• e. item of furniture – table – card table
• basic level, superordinate level and subordinate level.
Levels of categorization
• The basic level items are basic in three aspects:
• (i) perception: overall perceived shape, single mental image, fast
• (ii) communication: shortest, most commonly used and contextually
neutral words, first learned by children and first entered the lexicon.
• (iii) knowledge organization: most attributes of category members are
stored at this level.
• most frequently used
Conceptual metaphor
Traditionally, metaphor is a figure of speech.
CL: a property of concepts, a tool for conceptualization of
abstract categories.
It is defined as understanding one conceptual/cognitive
domain in terms of another conceptual domain.
conceptual domain (A)
target domain
conceptual domain (B)
source domain
Conceptual metaphor
More examples of conceptual metaphors:
1)Love Is A Journey
• Look how far we’ve come.
• We will just have to go our separate ways.
• We can’t turn back now.
2)An Argument Is War
• Your claims are indefensible.
• They attacked every weak point in our argument.
• She shot down all my arguments.
Conceptual metonymy
Traditionally, metonymy is a figure of speech.
e.g. Have you read Shakespeare?
I want my love to be with me all the time.
CL: Conceptual Metonymy is a cognitive process in which one
cognitive category, the source, provides mental access to
another cognitive category, the target, within the same
cognitive domain, or idealized cognitive model.
Conceptual metonymy
Conceptual Metonymy plays a very important part in the
structures of emotion categories.
Bodily symptoms of an emotion stands for that emotion:
e.g. I was chilled to the bone.
He swelled with pride.
He is jumping for joy.
Conceptual metonymy
Conceptual metonymy differs from conceptual metaphors In the
fact that conceptual metaphor involves a mapping across different
conceptual/cognitive domains while conceptual metonymy is a
mapping within one conceptual domain.
cognitive category (A)
target category
cognitive category (B)
source category
Conceptual metonymy
Most commonly used conceptual metonymies:
1)The producer for the product
She loves Picasso
2)The place for the event
America doesn’t want another Pearl Harbor.
3)The place for the institution
Hollywood is putting out terrible movies.
4)The controller for the controlled
Nixon bombed Hanoi
5)An object used for the user
The sax has the flu today.
Contrary to the belief Language is fundamentally arbitrary,
there is no resemblance between the signs of a language and
the thoughts they stand for, CL holds that the sequence of
grammatical elements is governed by the principle of iconicity,
in other words, the structure of language reflects in some way
the structure of experience.
The major types of iconicity are those of order, distance and
Iconicity of order
The similarity between temporal events and the linear
arrangement of elements in a linguistic construction.
He opened a bottle and poured himself a glass of wine.
He poured himself a glass of wine and opened a bottle.
He jumped onto his horse and rode out into the sunset.
He rode out into the sunset and jumped onto his horse.
Iconicity of distance
• Conceptual distance corresponds to linguistic distance, not
merely physical distance.
• a. He killed the chicken.
• b. He caused the chicken to die.
• When you buy beef …..
Iconicity of complexity
Any modification or elaboration of one meaning-bearing grammatical
element by another (as in the process of subordination) leads to the
increase of both structural and conceptual complexity.
On the train to Victoria I met her.
On the train to Victoria I met the girl from next door.
On the train to Victoria I met this fair-haired, fragile, just unbelievably
beautiful creature.
Iconicity of complexity accounts for our tendency to associate
more form with more meaning, and less form with less meaning.
Thank you!