FiCLA - Suomen kognitiivisen kielentutkimuksen yhdistys

 

 


Finnish Cognitive Linguistics Association FiCLA
organizes a workshop on semantics with the title

COGNITIVISM MEETS DYNAMISM

on Tuesday, 14th of June, 2005 in Espoo, Finland. The workshop is associated with the AKRR'05 conference on Adaptive Knowledge Representation and Reasoning (http://www.cis.hut.fi/AKRR05/) to be held at the Helsinki University of Technology. The participation to the FiCLA workshop is free.

--> Invited speakers

Plenary speaker in the workshop is professor Heike Wiese, Humboldt University Berlin, Department of German Language and Linguistics. One of professor Wiese´s research topics is modelling semantics as a linguistic interface system.

As an invited speaker talks researcher Anu Koskela, University of Sussex, Department of Linguistics and English Language. Other speakers include professor Esa Itkonen and docent Ahti-Veikko Pietarinen.

--> Workshop themes

The presentations are related to the dynamical phenomena within cognitive linguistics: e.g. semantics as an interface to cognitive contents, and for instance processes and methods like categorization, constructions, forces, motivations, presuppositions and activity.

 

Welcome to Espoo and the Finnish summer!


--> Programme committee

Pauli Brattico, University of Helsinki
Timo Honkela, Helsinki University of Technology
Tero Kainlauri, University of Joensuu
Oili Karihalme, University of Turku (Chair)
Lari Kotilainen, University of Helsinki
Michaela Pörn, Åbo Akademi University
Jari Sivonen, University of Oulu
Heli Tissari, University of Helsinki



The abstracts

--> Pauli Brattico & Taija Saikkonen

University of Helsinki

How is language learned: observations on the learning of Finnish sentential negation between ages 1–5

Finnish sentential negation diers from the negation in many other languages, such as French, English and German. This is because the Finnish negative marker e- agrees with the grammatical subject in the sentence (e-n, e-t, e-i, e-mme, e-tte, e-ivšt) and occupies a higher position in the clause, following immediately the subject. We studied the learning of negation in Finnish by collecting data from children representing ages between 1 to 5, constituting a total of 1400 negative utterances. Analysis of the development of negative grammatical constructions and the distribution of errors (or deviant expressions) in our sample, coupled with what we know about the development of negation in other languages, shows that children do very few errors in their use of negation due to the fact that they are extremely conservative in their acquisition. Thus, they guess the right properties of the target language always correctly but use a limited variety of grammatical constructions. There are two competing hypothesis about such conservatism: according to the item-based model, children do not make grammatical hypotheses about the target language but they more or less parrot adult speech (Tomasello 2003), whereas according to the so called Principles & Parameters model their acquisition is constrained by innate principles. Our data supports the latter model, especially Vexler's (1998) Very Early Parameter-Settiing hypothesis.


--> Esa Itkonen
Professor
General Linguistics
University of Turku
Finland

Analogy as Structure and Process

A useful taxonomy of the different types of analogical relationship between two distinct 'systems' can be constructed in the form of a tetrachoric table based on the distinctions 'epistemic vs. ontological' and 'symmetric vs. asymmetric'. At the same time, such dynamic cognitive processes as discovery, invention, and application (or imitation) receive some additional explication. This talk will be based on Itkonen (2005).

Reference:

Itkonen, Esa. 2005. Analogy as structure and process. Amsterdam: Benjamins
(Human Cognitive Processing).

 

--> Anu Koskela
DPhil Candidate
Dept. of Linguistics and English Language/
Centre for Research in Cognitive Science
University of Sussex
UK

Vertical polysemy, dynamic meaning and conventionality

Cognitive linguistic research into word meaning has stressed the non-discrete, encyclopaedic nature of word meaning. It has been argued that words are not associated with fixed senses, but rather word senses emerge dynamically in discourse situations (e.g. Geeraerts, 1993; Sinha, 1999). Building on this assumption, this talk explores the phenomenon of vertical polysemy from a dynamic semantics viewpoint. In vertical polysemy a single lexical form is associated with two (or more) senses which are in a relationship of inclusion. The word therefore has two senses which designate categories on different hierarchical taxonomic levels – e.g. the meaning of run can either be construed as a superordinate or as a contrasting category to the meaning of jog.

I present a survey of some types of vertical polysemy, exploring the ways in which vertical polysemy can emerge in communication, and argue that in vertical polysemy both the narrower and broader construals of the meaning of a lexical form constitute communicatively useful categories. This frequently means that the narrower and broader senses are defined against particular contextually or culturally salient conceptual domains. For example, for the verb drink, the broader meaning ‘consume liquid’ is motivated by the significance in human experience of the consumption of liquids (as opposed to eating), while the motivation of the narrower ‘consume alcohol’ sense lies in the cultural significance of alcohol. I further argue that different cases of vertical polysemy exhibit a gradation of conventionality in the sense that there is variation in the degree to which the broader and narrower senses are predictable on the basis of the context and the shared beliefs of speakers and hearers. This examination of vertical polysemy illustrates the flexible and dynamic nature of linguistic categorisation and the importance of cultural shared knowledge for linguistic communication.


--> Ahti-Veikko Pietarinen
Docent, DPhil
Department of Theoretical Philosophy
University of Helsinki
Finland

Mental spaces and Peirce’s logical diagrams


Cognitive semantics is replete with spatiality of our mental world and meaning: geometric, topological, embodied, image-schematic and prototypical concepts are commonplace. But logical rigor is absent. I suggest reconstructing mental spaces through Peirce’s century-old logical diagrams. They were intended to be icons of the content of the mind: “It is by icons only that we really reason, and abstract statements are valueless in reasoning except so far as they aid us to construct diagrams” (Peirce 1931-58, 4.127).

The following correspondence may be noted. According to Fauconnier & Turner (2002), mental spaces and their combinations are conceptual packages of simple iconic objects and connections, associated with frames of background information and experience. In Peirce, mental spaces correspond to dynamic interpretants, “effect[s] actually produced on the mind by the Sign” (8.343).

Fauconnier & Turner claim that the blends, which may accommodate structures not present in the input spaces such as identities between objects in different spaces, result in emergent ideas by virtue of projective composition, elaboration and application. In logical diagrams, identities and spaces are topological connectivities between subareas, operating through juxtaposition and identity between continuous predicates and individuals. New ‘blends’ arise by virtue of (i) structurepreserving continuous deformations corresponding to composition; (ii) collateral observation and the common ground in interpreting the diagrams corresponding to frame elaboration; (iii) experimentation on diagrammatic representations for creative reasoning (abduction) corresponding to application. Just as blends may feedback the input spaces to produce new blends, Peirce’s interpretation was recursive: “The whole purpose of a sign is that it shall be interpreted in another sign”; “When a sign determines an interpretation of itself in another sign, it produces an effect external to itself” (8.191).

According to the neural interpretation, mental spaces are association patterns and co-activation is the inter-space projection. Peirce’s belief was that diagrams are our true pictures of thought in action. The binding problem thus derives logical content from spatial connectivity, predicate continuity and identity.

Cognitive semantics thus falls under Peirce’s category of thirdness of change, time, space, representation, analogy and intentionality. Moreover, a Peircean reconstruction necessitates the extension of mental spaces to communal, distributed cognition.

References

Fauconnier, G., and Turner, M., (2002). The Way We Think: Conceptual Blending and the Mind’s Hidden Complexities, New York: Basic Books.
Peirce, C. S., (1931-58). Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, 8 vols., ed. by C. Hartshorne, P. Weiss, and A.W. Burks. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Peirce, C. S., (1967). Manuscripts in the Houghton Library of Harvard University, as identified by Richard Robin, Annotated Catalogue of the Papers of Charles S. Peirce (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1967), and in ‘The Peirce Papers: A supplementary catalogue’, Transactions of the C. S. Peirce Society 7 (1971), 37-57.
Pietarinen, A.-V., (2005). Signs of Logic: Peircean Themes on the Philosophy of Language, Games, and Communication, (Synthese Library Series), Dordrecht: Springer.


--> Heike Wiese
Yale University, New Haven, & Humboldt-Universitšt Berlin

Semantics as a grammatical interface: Representational and processing perspectives

Language is prominently a means to express conceptual structures. However, the way from concepts to language is not necessarily a direct one: when they are expressed, conceptual representations are integrated into the grammatical system, and this integration does not always establish one-to-one correlations between conceptual and syntactic features. Linguistic constraints on these correlations can be captured by grammatical-semantic representations that mediate between the general conceptual and the syntactic system. Does this integration establish a separate, linguistic, system of meaning? What architecture could account for such an intermediary, and what could be the evidence for a distinction of semantic and conceptual structures?

In my talk, I propose a model that identifies a semantic level SEM as a grammatical interface of the conceptual system CS, that is, as a gateway to language for conceptual structures. I formalise SEM to be a relational structure that captures language-specific patterns and thus constitutes a system in its own standing within the general conceptual module CS. Hence, as an interface level, SEM has a dual status. One the one hand, it belongs to its mother module, CS. On the other hand, it is part of the grammatical system: it is that part of CS that accounts for grammatical and lexical constraints, that is, for linguistic aspects of meaning. This approach allows us to identify those aspects of meaning that have reflexes in the linguistic system and distinguish them from general conceptual structures, without forcing us to assume two separate modules for semantic and conceptual representations.

I support the notion of such a semantic interface from both a representational and a processing point of view: I discuss grammatical evidence for the distinction and the correlation of semantic and conceptual structures, and present psycholinguistic evidence for the activation of semantic (vs. general conceptual and syntactic) features in language comprehension on the one hand and for language-specific effects of semantic structures on the conceptual mother module on the other hand.