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  • Meaning and cognition: A multidisciplinary approach ed. by Liliana Albertazzi
  • Chaoqun Xie
Meaning and cognition: A multidisciplinary approach. Ed. by Liliana Albertazzi (Converging evidence in language and communication 2.) Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 2000. Pp. 269. $79.00.

This collection of papers is devoted to some central topics in the area of cognitive semantics and cognitive grammar. Touching upon such themes as conceptualization, construal operations, prototypicality, spatial perception, metaphor, and field semantics from a cross-disciplinary perspective, this volume represents the state of the art in cognitive grammar research and should be of interest to those involved in semantics and philosophy of language or with the interactions between these fields.

This book consists of ten chapters. In ‘Which semantics’ (1–24), Liliana Albertazzi presents an excellent overview of the past and the present of semantics, elaborates on differences between formal semantics and cognitive semantics, and calls for a philosophical theory of cognitive semantics. In ‘Why [End Page 213] a mind is necessary: Conceptualization, grammar and linguistic semantics’ (25–38), Ronald W. Langacker tries to demonstrate that ‘grammar, far from being an autonomous formal system, is by its very nature critically dependent on human conceptualization’ (32). This chapter provides to some extent a reference framework for the other essays in this volume. In ‘What is Montague semantics?’ (39–49), Diego Marconi maintains that Montague semantics is not a theory of meaning for natural language but ‘a theory of the semantic effects of composition’ (42), a partial, or even ‘complete theory of (an idealization of) inferential competence’ (48).

In ‘Construal operations in linguistics and artificial intelligence’ (51–78), William Croft and Esther J.Wood present a comprehensive inventory and classification of construal operations, arguing that the construal operations are universal and that the construal operations in language and other modalities are basically the same. In ‘Salience phenomena in the lexicon: A typology’ (79–101), Dirk Geeraerts presents seven major cases of lexicological salience. In ‘Prototypicality, typicality, and context’ (103–22), Patrizia Violi distinguishes categorial prototypicality and semantic typicality, pointing out that such a distinction is significant in tackling the problem of context and of the contextual meaning of words.

In ‘Directions and perspective points in spatial perception’ (123–43), Liliana Albertazzi aims for a philosophical foundation for cognitive semantics based on an experimental phenomenology. One of her important points is that ‘we shall never be able to handle the problem of metaphor until we have determined the structure of cognitive transposability’ (142). In ‘Force and emotion’ (145–68), Zoltán Kövecses argues that the basic schema of emotion is only a skeletal one and that the various emotion metaphor source domains are instantiations of the concept of force (168).

Alberto Peruzzi’s ‘The geometric roots of semantics’ (169–201) contends that the logical status of language is a projection of geometric and topological patterns and that these can be accounted for in terms of category theory. Last, Wolfgang Wildgen delves into ‘The history and future of field semantics: From Giordano Bruno to dynamic semantics’ (203–26). This volume ends with notes on each chapter, references (note though that Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson’s Relevance: Communication and cognition came out in 1986, not 1984), a glossary of terminology, and name and subject indexes.

Meaning and cognition presents a coherent story in that most, if not all, of the contributions are interconnected with one another in terms of both the viewpoints stated and the approaches adopted. This volume is a welcome addition to the enormous literature on cognitive grammar, though one should be aware that it would be hard to follow without some background knowledge of cognitive linguistics.

Chaoqun Xie
Fujian Teachers University


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pp. 213-214
Launched on MUSE
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