Despite the cognitivist demand for real occurring

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Unformatted text preview: ynamics As a representative of the moderate wing of cognitivism, Talmy is clearly rooted in the generative tradition, as evidenced by the representations he uses (2000: 347-377, 471-550). Still, he is truly cognitive in an attempt to identify the structuring common to various cognitive systems, such as language, visual perception and reasoning. This interdisciplinary approach is evident in his insistence on using the concept of ception “to cover all the cognitive phenomena, conscious and unconscious, understood as the conjunction of perception and conception” (Talmy 2000: 139). At the same time he suggests that “…vision and language ha[ve] a content subsystem and a structure subsystem” (2000: 160), which seems strikingly similar to the Chomskyan claim that language consists of grammar (structure subsystem) and lexicon (content subsystem). Despite the cognitivist demand for real-occurring data, Talmy uses constructed examples and formulates claims which could not be tested statistically, and therefore reduces possible empirical arguments to a manner of speech, as in: … in language, fictive motion occurs preponderantly more than fictive stationariness. That is, linguistic expressions that manifest fictive motion far outnumber ones that manifest fictive stationariness. In other words, linguistic expression exhibits a strong bias toward conceptual dynamism as against staticism (Talmy 2000: 171). In this passage, expressions such as more, far outnumber, a strong bias toward could be referring to some real statistical values. Instead, they are used as if they were intensifiers. 42 Chapter I When discussing the theory of the windowing of attention in language, Talmy suggests an Event Frame as a unit of analysis. An Event Frame consists of conceptual elements and interrelationships between them, which are often evoked together or co-evoked. He admits that the notion is similar to Fillmore’s (1982) frame or scene, but he clearly specifies the differences between them. First of all, Talmy stresses both the coexistence and the exclusion of certain elements from the frame (windowing vs. gapping), whereas Fillmore focuses on co-presence only. Moreover, the Fillmorian scenes have a language-specific sociocultural dimension, whereas Talmy’s event frames are supposed to be more generic categories, universal across languages, and probably innate (Talmy 2000: 259-260). For example, the force-dynamic event frame consists of such schematic elements as Agonist and Antagonist, an intrinsic force tendency ascribed to them – either towards action or towards rest, resultant of the force interaction – either action or rest, balance of strengths – weaker vs. stronger entity. As can be easily noticed, the elements of the event frame pattern into opposing dyads, receiving additional support from and even more basic characteristics of human reasoning – a propensity for dichotomy. According to Talmy (2000: 409), force dynamics is … first of all, a generalization over the traditional linguistic notion of “causative”: it analyzes ‘causing’ into finer primitives and sets it naturally within a framework that also includes ‘letting’, ‘hindering’, ‘helping...
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This essay was uploaded on 02/24/2014 for the course LING 1100 taught by Professor Friedman during the Fall '09 term at Cornell University (Engineering School).

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