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Relating Language to Other Cognitive Systems: An Overview

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image of Cognitive Semantics

This article proposes how language relates structurally and evolutionarily to cognition. It heuristically divides cognition into cognitive systems and the organizing factors that structure them. The general finding is that cognitive systems share these structural properties to different degrees. This is termed the “overlapping systems model of cognitive organization”. The specific finding is that the cognitive system of language shares many structural properties with the cognitive systems of visual perception, of somatosensory perception and motor control, and of understanding, but shares few structural properties with those of affect and of culture.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Linguistics, Center for Cognitive Science University at Buffalo, State University of New York,


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1. All the author’s publications listed here are on his website: .
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16. Seyfarth Robert ,and Cheney Dorothy ,. 2012. "Primate social cognition as a precursor to language". In Tallerman Maggie M. ,& Gibson Kathleen R. K. (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Language Evolution , 5970. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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19. Talmy Leonard . 2000b. Toward a Cognitive Semantics, volume II: Typology and Process in Concept Structuring . i–viii, 1495. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
20. Talmy Leonard ,. 2003. "The representation of spatial structure in spoken and signed language". In Emmorey Karen (ed.), Perspectives on Classifier Constructions in Sign Language , 169195. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
21. Talmy Leonard ,. 2005. "The fundamental system of spatial schemas in language". In Hampe Beate (ed.), From Perception to Meaning: Image Schemas in Cognitive Linguistics , 199234. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
22. Talmy Leonard ,. 2007. "Recombinance in the evolution of language". In Cihlar Jonathon E. ,, Kaiser David ,, Kimbara Irene ,& Franklin Amy (eds.), Proceedings of the 39th Annual Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society: The Panels , vol. 39–2, 2660.
23. Wilkins David P. , 1993. "Linguistic evidence in support of a holistic approach to traditional ecological knowledge: linguistic manifestations of the bond between kinship, land, and totemism in Mparntwe Arrernte"In Williams Nancy M. ,and Baines Graham B. K. (eds.), Traditional Ecological Knowledge: Wisdom for Sustainable Development , 7193. Canberra: CRES Publications.
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25. Wolff Phillip ,and Shepard Jason . 2013. "Causation, touch, and the perception of force". Psychology of Learning and Motivation Vol 58: 167202. (PDF)

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