Present day anti-refugee and anti-immigrant rhetoric both in European countries and in the USA makes reference both to shared tropes and to culture-specific rhetoric devices. The paper analyzes four instances of Polish rabid anti-refugee rhetoric that is eminently country specific: they invoke Holocaust scenario as the means of dealing with the refugee question, should they appear on Polish soil, and specifically suggest exterminating them in former Nazi death camps. The analysis is carried out within the Conceptual Integration Theory, amended by the Author with the notion of parasitic blends: these are said to occur when audiences recruit into the blend some elements of the two input spaces that were not intended to be recruited and come up with an emergent meaning that differ from the intended one. It is claimed that such possibility is actually built into CIT and explains why some of the criticism of CIT claims blends’ non-predictability and generally ex-post character of most analyses found in relevant literature.
Elicitation materials like language portraits are useful to investigate people’s perceptions about the languages that they know. This study uses portraits to analyse the underlying conceptualisations people exhibit when reflecting on their language repertoires. Conceptualisations as manifestations of cultural cognition are the purview of cognitive sociolinguistics. The present study advances portrait methodology as it analyses data from structured language portraits of 105 South African youth as a linguistic corpus from both qualitative and quantitative perspectives. The approach enables the uncovering of (a) prominent underlying conceptualisations of African language(s) and the body, and (b) the differences and similarities of these conceptualisations vis-à-vis previous cognitive (socio)linguistic studies of embodied language experiences. In our analysis, African home languages emerged both as ‘languages of the heart’ linked to cultural identity and as ‘languages of the head’ linked to cognitive strength and control. Moreover, the notion of ‘degrees of proficiency’ or ‘magnitude’ of language knowledge emerged more prominently than in previous studies of embodied language experience.
De Smet et al. (2018) propose that when functionally similar constructions come to overlap, analogical attraction may occur. So may differentiation, but this process involves attraction to other subnetworks and is both “accidental” and “exceptional”. I argue that differentiation plays a considerably more significant role than De Smet et al. allow. My case study is the development of the dative and benefactive alternations. The rise of the dative alternation (e.g., “gave the Saxons land” ∼ “gave land to the Saxons”) has been shown to occur in later Middle English between 1400 and 1500 (Zehentner 2018). Building on Zehentner and Traugott (2020), the rise of the benefactive alternation (e.g., “build her a house” ∼ “build a house for her”) in Early Modern English c1650 is analyzed from a historical constructionalist perspective and compared with the rise of the dative alternation. The histories of the alternations exemplify the rise of functionally similar constructions that overlap, and show that differentiation from each other plays as large a role as attraction. Both attraction and differentiation occur at several levels of abstraction: verb-specific constructions, schemas and larger systemic changes.
Most native speakers of Spanish are intuitively able to construct correct structures with the marker ‘se’. On the other hand, non-native speakers, even those at advanced proficiency levels, have difficulties producing most constructions with ‘se’. This is hardly surprising as the marker ‘se’, one of the most common words in Spanish, can convey highly pragmatic nuances with a variety of functions that are still much debated among linguists. This study analyses some of the most used functions of the marker in the oral production of 18 Peninsular Spanish speakers from a multimodal Cognitive Grammar approach, identifying how gestures might be employed by speakers to create or clarify meaning. Our results confirm that gestures are used differently depending on the function of the marker. Middle voices where ‘se’ marks high levels of subject involvement and/or energy co-occur with related gestures, while middle voices or impersonal structures, where the involvement and/or energy is low, co-occur more often with unrelated gestures, if any.
The present review is conceived to be a contribution from the double perspective of a semiotician and a designer to the current debate on the extended mind and on distributed cognition, focusing on the role of things (artefacts, material culture) for the emergence of agency in animate beings. The theory of material engagement as conceived by Lambros Malafouris was formally introduced seven years ago, proposing an idea of boundless cognition and reformulating key notions such as agency, intentionality, and mental representations, philosophically framed with the help of approaches such as postphenomenology (; ). There is much to commend about a non-hierarchical, interdependent relationship between the world and living organisms — and more specifically between material things and human beings. Nevertheless, a balanced review of the notion of “material agency” is still called for. In this review, I show that an asymmetry can be introduced into the relationship between artefacts and human beings without committing the “sin” of anthropocentrism.