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  How grammar introduces asymmetry into cognitive structures: compositional semantics, metaphors, and schematological hybrids

Gil, D., & Shen, Y. (2019). How grammar introduces asymmetry into cognitive structures: compositional semantics, metaphors, and schematological hybrids. Frontiers in Psychology, 10: 2275. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02275.

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Item Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-DD19-8 Version Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-ED4D-C
Genre: Journal Article

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 Creators:
Gil, David1, Author              
Shen, Yeshayahu, Author
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1Linguistic and Cultural Evolution, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society, ou_2074311              

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Free keywords: compositional semantics, metaphor, hybrid, asymmetry, thematic roles, ontogeny, phylogeny, conceptual combination
 Abstract: This paper presents a preliminary and tentative formulation of a novel empirical generalization governing the relationship between grammar and cognition across a variety of independent domains. Its point of departure is an abstract distinction between two kinds of cognitive structures: symmetric and asymmetric. While in principle any feature whatsoever has the potential for introducing asymmetry, this paper focuses on one specific feature, namely thematic-role assignment. Our main empirical finding concerns the role of language, or, more specifically, grammar, in effecting and maintaining the distinction between symmetric and asymmetric cognitive structures. Specifically, whereas symmetric structures devoid of thematic-role assignment more commonly occur in a non-grammatical and usually also non-verbal medium, asymmetric structures involving thematic-role assignment are more likely to be associated with a grammatical medium. Our work draws together three independent strands of empirical research associated with three diverse phenomenological domains: compositional semantics, metaphors and schematological hybrids. These three domains instantiate conceptual combinations, bringing together two or more subordinate entities into a single superordinate entity. For compositional semantics this consists of a juxtaposition of constituent signs to form a single more complex sign; for metaphors this entails the bringing together of two different concepts in order to produce a comparison; while for schematological hybrids this involves the combination of different entities to form a single new hybrid entity. Our empirical results reveal a remarkable parallelism between the above three domains. Within each domain, symmetric structures tend to be associated with a non-verbal or otherwise non-grammatical medium, while asymmetric structures are more frequently associated with a grammatical medium. Thus, within each domain, grammar introduces asymmetry. More specifically, we find that in all three domains, the asymmetry in question is one that involves the assignment of thematic roles. To capture this effect, we posit two distinct levels, or tiers, of cognition: non-grammatical cognition, more commonly associated with symmetric structures, and grammatical cognition more conducive to asymmetric structures. Within each of the three phenomenological domains, we find the distinction between non-grammatical and grammatical cognition to be manifest in three independent realms, phylogeny, ontogeny, and the architecture of human cognition. Thus, grammar constitutes the driving force behind the transition from symmetric to asymmetric cognitive structures.

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Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2019-10-17
 Publication Status: Published online
 Pages: 17
 Publishing info: -
 Table of Contents: -
 Rev. Method: Peer
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02275
Other: shh2439
 Degree: -

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Title: Frontiers in Psychology
  Abbreviation : Front Psychol
Source Genre: Journal
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Publ. Info: Pully, Switzerland : Frontiers Research Foundation
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 10 Sequence Number: 2275 Start / End Page: - Identifier: ISSN: 1664-1078
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/1664-1078