Fall 2008

Cognitive Linguistics

Linguistics 423/640G

Tu, Th 10:30-11:45; Moore 119

Ben Bergen


Course description

Cognitive Linguistics is the study of the mind through language and the study of language as a cognitive function. Cognitive Linguistics has two main goals: (1) to study how cognitive mechanisms like memory, categorization, attention, and imagery are used during language behavior; and (2) to develop psychologically viable models of language that cover broad ranges of linguistic phenomena, including idioms and figurative language. Research in Cognitive Linguistics is multi-disciplinary; evidence is drawn from text analysis, language acquisition, language change, psycholinguistic experimentation, and brain imaging, among other sources. The purpose of this course is to provide a general orientation in Cognitive Linguistics, an understanding of its central themes and assumptions, and exposure to its empirical methods.



An undergrad introduction to linguistics and upper division or graduate status, or instructor consent.



Students enrolled for full credit will be expected to complete 4 homework assignments and a research project, to present a reading to the class, and to participate in class meetings. All assignments are to be turned in at the beginning of class on the day they are due.


Grades are assigned according to the following distribution:

Homework assignments (4):


Term paper:


Reading presentation


Class participation




Please take full advantage of my office hours, at times to be determined, in Moore Hall 581. You can also email me: bergen@hawaii.edu.


Lecture notes, an up-to-date course schedule, links to online versions of course readings, and links to relevant resources will appear through the semester at: http://www2.hawaii.edu/~bergen/ling640G/

Lecture, reading, and assignment schedule (provisional)

Part I. Theoretical Bases










Language and the mind

[1]§1-4; ([1]§5-9)







Polysemy and homonymy

[3]; ([4])

Hw #1 Distributed







[6]; ([7])





Hw #1 Due


Mental simulation [reading presentation]

[9]; ([10])






Part II: Empirical Methods


Empirical methods I


Hw #2 Distributed


Empirical methods II




Metaphor II




Mental simulation II

[14]; [15]

Hw #2 Due

Part III: Linguistic relativism: How language affects cognition


Linguistic relativism








Metaphors for time


Hw #3 Distributed










Writing systems

[21], [22]

Hw #3 Due


Part IV: Cognitive grammars


Grammatical constructions




Network models of grammar





Election Day – no class




Constructions in sentence processing


Hw #4 Distributed

Term Paper Prop Due


Veterans' day - no class




Constructions in sentence production




Embodied Construction Grammar


Hw #4 Due

Part V: Bottom-up language acquisition


Usage-based language acquisition








Thanksgiving – no class




Grammatical classes




Grammatical constructions




Comparative acquisition




Summing up




Student mini-conference


Term Paper Due

Readings (Some papers require a login and password, available from the instructor.)


[1]     Evans, Vyvyan, Benjamin K. Bergen and Jörg Zinken. 2006. The Cognitive Linguistics Enterprise: An Overview. In The Cognitive Linguistics Reader, London: Equinox. http://www.port.ac.uk/departments/academic/psychology/staff/downloads/filetodownload,68131,en.pdf

[2]     Rosch, Eleanor. 1978. Principles of categorization. In: E. Rosch, B. Lloyd (eds.): Cognition and categorization. Hilldale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. http://www2.hawaii.edu/~bergen/ling640G/papers/rosch1b.doc

[3]     Wikipedia entries for Polysemy and Homonyms. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polysemy, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homonyms

[4]     Klepousniotou, E. 2002. The processing of lexical ambiguity: homonymy and polysemy in the mental lexicon. Brain Lang. Apr-Jun;81(1-3):205-23. http://www2.hawaii.edu/~bergen/ling640G/papers/klepousniotou.pdf

[5]     Lakoff, George. 1993. The contemporary theory of metaphor. In Andrew Ortony (Ed.) Metaphor and thought (2nd edition). Cambridge: Cambridge. http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/encap/clcr/gordon/lakoff.pdf

[6]     Wikipedia entry for Metonymy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metonymy

[7]      Radden, Günter. 1999. Towards a Theory of Metonymy. In Klaus-Uwe Panther and Gunter Radden (ed.). Metonymy in Language and Thought, pp. 17-66. John Benjamins. http://www2.hawaii.edu/~bergen/ling640G/papers/RaddenKovecses.doc< /span>

[8]     Croft, William and D. Alan Cruse. 2006. Cognitive Linguistics. Cambridge University Press. Ch. 3 http://www2.hawaii.edu/~bergen/ling640G/papers/cog03.pdf

[9]     Zwaan, R.A. (1999). Embodied cognition, perceptual symbols, and situation models. Discourse Processes, 28, 81-88. http://www.brain-cognition.eu/publications//zwaan-dp-99.pdf

[10]  Zwaan, R.A. (2004). The immersed experiencer: toward an embodied theory of language comprehension. In B.H. Ross (Ed.) The Psychology of Learning and Motivation (pp 35-62). Academic Press, New York. http://www.brain-cognition.eu/publications//Learning&Motivation.pdf

[11]  González-Márquez, Mónica, Raymond B. Becker, and James Cutting. To appear. An Introduction to Experimental Methods for Language Researchers. In M. Gonzalez-Marquez, I. Mittelberg, S. Coulson, and M. J. Spivey (eds.) Methods in Cognitive Linguistics: Ithaca. http://www2.hawaii.edu/~bergen/ling640G/papers/gonzalez-marquez.doc

[12]  Núñez, Rafael. To appear. Inferential Statistics in the Context of Empirical Cognitive Linguistics. In Monica Gonzalez-Marquez, Irene Mittelberg, Seana Coulson, and Michael J. Spivey (eds.) Methods in Cognitive Linguistics: Ithaca. http://www2.hawaii.edu/~bergen/ling640G/papers/nunez/

[13]  Boroditsky, L. (2000). Metaphoric Structuring: Understanding time through spatial metaphors. Cognition, 75(1), 1-28. http://www-psych.stanford.edu/~lera/papers/metaphors.pdf

[14]  Zwaan, R.A., Stanfield, R.A., Yaxley, R.H. 2002. Do language comprehenders routinely represent the shapes of objects? Psychological Science, 13, 168-171. http://www.brain-cognition.eu/publications//shapes.pdf

[15]  Benjamin Bergen. To appear. Experimental methods for simulation semantics. In M. Gonzalez-Marquez, I. Mittelberg, S. Coulson, and M. J. Spivey (eds.) Methods in Cognitive Linguistics. http://www2.hawaii.edu/~bergen/papers/BergenEMCLchapterdistrib.doc

[16]  Boroditsky, L. (in press). Linguistic Relativity. Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. MacMillan Press. http://www-psych.stanford.edu/~lera/papers/ECS-proofs.pdf

[17]  Majid, A., Bowerman, M., Kita, S., Haun, D. & S. Levinson (2004). Can language restructure cognition? The case for space. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 8(3), 108-114. http://silccenter.org/bibliography_pdfs/the_case_for_space.pdf

[18]  Boroditsky, L. (2001). Does language shape thought? English and Mandarin speakers' conceptions of time. Cognitive Psychology, 43(1), 1-22. http://www-psych.stanford.edu/~lera/papers/mandarin.pdf

[19]  Boroditsky, L., Schmidt, L., & Phillips, W. (in press). Sex, Syntax, and Semantics. To appear in Gentner & Goldin-Meadow (Eds.,) Language in Mind: Advances in the study of Language and Cognition. http://www-psych.stanford.edu/~lera/papers/gender.pdf

[20]  McDonough, L., Choi, S., Mandler, J. (2003) Understanding spatial relations: Flexible infants, lexical adults. Cognitive Psychology, 46, 229-259. http://www2.hawaii.edu/~bergen/ling640G/papers/koreanenglish.pdf

[21]  Maass, A., & Russo, A. (2003). Directional bias in the mental representation of spatial events: Nature or culture? Psychological Science, 14, 296 –301 http://www2.hawaii.edu/~bergen/ling640G/papers/writingdirectionMaasRusso.pdf

[22]  Ting Ting Chan and Benjamin Bergen. 2005. Writing Direction Influences Spatial Cognition. In Proceedings of the Twenty-Seventh Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. http://www2.hawaii.edu/~bergen/papers/f895-chan.pdf

[23]  Goldberg, Adele. 2003. Constructions: A new theoretical approach to language. Trends in Cognitive Science. http://www3.isrl.uiuc.edu/~junwang4/langev/localcopy/pdf/goldberg03constructions.pdf

[24]  Diessel, Holger. 2004. A dynamic network model of grammatical constructions. In The Acquisition of Complex Sentences. Cambridge University Press. http://www.personal.uni-jena.de/~x4diho/The%20usage%20based%20model.pdf

[25]  Kaschak, Michael P. and Arthur M. Glenberg 2000, Constructing meaning: The role of affordances and grammatical constructions in sentence comprehension, Journal of Memory and Language 43: 508-529. http://www.psy.fsu.edu/~kaschaklab/ConstructingMeaning.pdf

[26]  Kaschak, M. P., Loney, R. A., & Borreggine, K. (2006).Recent experience affects the strength of structural priming. Cognition. http://www.psy.fsu.edu/~kaschaklab/RecentExperience.pdf

[27]  Benjamin Bergen, Nancy Chang, and Shweta Narayan. 2004. Simulated Action in an Embodied Construction Grammar. Proceedings of the Twenty-Sixth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. http://www2.hawaii.edu/%7Ebergen/papers/BCN04.pdf

[28]  Tomasello, Michael. 2000. A Usage-Based Approach to Child Language Acquisition. Proceedings of the Berkeley Linguistics Society. http://www2.hawaii.edu/~bergen/ling640G/papers/BLS.doc

[29]  Bloom, P. (2001). Precis of "How children learn the meanings of words." Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 24, 1095-1103. http://www.yale.edu/langcoglab/papers/bloom-precis.pdf

[30]  Adele E. Goldberg, Devin Casenhiser and Nitya Sethuraman. 2003. A lexically based proposal of argument structure meaning. Chicago Linguistic Society. http://www.princeton.edu/~adele/CLS-03-final.doc

[31]  Choi, Soonja. 2000. Caregiver input in English and Korean: use of nouns and verbs in book-reading and toy-play contexts. J. Child Lang. 27:69-96. http://www2.hawaii.edu/~bergen/ling640G/papers/choi2000.pdf