UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The relationship between grammar and cognition Carter, Ron


This thesis is an attempt to link basic cognitive processes to attested historical developments in the English language, and, in so doing, to arrive at a plausible, natural theory of grammar that accounts for the form of the language at any stage in its history. The main argument is that relational morphemes such as case inflections and prepositions always derive their meaning from concrete object schemas that develop pre-linguistically from our experience with the world in relation to our bodies and our intentional states. Evidence is drawn from linguistic investigations into case that have served as the catalyst for the discussion about how pre-linguistic categorization affects language structure, cognitive (Langacker) and experientialist (Lakoff) orientations to grammatical structure that take the insights of case grammar and reconcile them with research in cognitive psychology (Rosch), and Artificial Intelligence Research (Parallel Distributed Processing) involving the computer modeling of neural functions. The conclusion is that pre-linguistic relational schemas and therefore spatial cognitive function provide a template for grammatical relationships, and, that the computer modeling of neural function supports such a conclusion.

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