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The Structure of the World of Meaning

Szilágyi, N. Sándor - 2004.11.18.

Cognitive linguistics studies languages in relation to the human cognitive system. The lecture initially deals with the metaphorical nature of language including the issues of perceptual and linguistic categorisation then goes on to describe the structure of the world of meaning. This describes the increasingly complex hierarchy of category types and shows the kind of knowledge required for something to be listed under a given category. The simplest ones are the personal names where there is no categorisation. From here various category types branch out, those that can be defined by sight alone, such as animals, people, parts of the body, then plants and parts of plants and finally the artefacts and their parts. This branch is characterised by metaphorical extension, which extends from the more known to less known, from the less complex to the more complex on a given level. The names of the other branches cannot be defined simply by looking at them but one has to know somehow that they belong to that category. The simplest ones here are the relationship names, then the function and institution names and finally the purely linguistic abstract names. This branch is not characterised by metaphoric nature, rather by blending, i.e. structural metaphor as Lakoff and Johnson called it. The lecture describes only the possibility of building such a structure and notes that with its more developed form we can understand a number of linguistic phenomena better than with the general explanations given in today's scientific literature.

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