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Auteur: Stefan HARTMANN

Co-Auteur(s): Michael PLEYER, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, Germany

Cognitive Foundations of Construal Operations: Perspectives from Language Change and Language Acquisition

Abstract/Résumé: Language change and language acquisition can be considered an ideal testing ground for investigating the interconnections of biological, cognitive, and cultural factors in the evolution of language (cf. Kirby 2012). This paper focuses on the key role of construal operations in language and cognition, i.e. the capacity to conceptualise states of affairs in specific ways and from different perspectives (cf. e.g. Verhagen 2007). We argue that perspectival construal is a general structuring principle of language that applies to all levels of its organisation and use. Based on previous research as well as on our own findings from corpus data, we will demonstrate that it also plays a crucial role in both language acquisition and language change. This in turn has important implications for the evolution of language. We discuss a variety of examples showing how language as a Complex Adaptive System (Beckner et al. 2009) reflects the dynamicity of perspectival construal operations. Our findings elucidate that the cognitive drive for perspectival construal, as well as the cognitive resources, capacities, and constraints involved in linguistic perspectivation, are of significant importance in the evolution of language. References Beckner, C. et al. (2009): Language Is A Complex Adaptive System. Position Paper. In: Language Learning 59, 1-26. Kirby, S. (2012): Language is an Adaptive System: The Role of Cultural Evolution in the Origins of Structure. In: Tallerman, M. & K. R. Gibson (eds.): The Oxford Handbook of Language Evolution. Oxford, 589-604. Verhagen, A. (2007): Construal and Perspectivization. In: Geeraerts, D. & H. Cuyckens (eds.): The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics. Oxford, 48-81.