If Levi-Strauss met Langacker:Constructional foundations ofcultural patternsDominik Lukeš@techczechhttp://metaphorhacker.net
Preliminaries
Can culture be taught thesame way that language can?Culture is more like languagethan we assume in thatlanguage is more li...
Jakobsonvoiced / unvoiced                 cooked / rawLévi-Strauss
“I saw a guy at a party wearinga leather jacket and I thought,„That is cool.‟ But then I sawanother guy wearing a leatherv...
Langackerconstruction inventory                      ??????Levi-Strauss
CaveatWe need more than just usingterms from one field to labelphenomena in another withoutproviding a benefit.
(Radical)Constructional view oflanguage
Language                         =Constructions(meaning/form pairs)                         +Integration (blending)
Language is a structuredinventory of symbolic unitsUnits are best described asconstructions linking form andmeaningFormal ...
Everything we know as wordsand rules are justconstructions.
Knowledge of linguistic units is thesame kind of knowledge as otherkinds of knowledge (encyclopedic)and exhibits the same ...
Knowledge is structured byframes (cognitive models).          (See talk on Frames.)
conceptual integration isconstrained, underspecified, opportunistic, dynamic, conventionalized
Meaning of constructions canbe very rich(encyclopedic/lexical – „horse‟)or very schematic(grammatical „N‟, „N+pl‟)
meaning             / dog /___________   ___________form                [dɔg]
/ dog /       / plural s/z/ɪz /___________    ___________[dɔg]                     [z]
/ dogs /            / sail /___________   ___________[dɔgz]              [ s aɪ l ]
Constructions are of differentdegrees of schematicity (e.g.style is a construction) and theirworking is available forintro...
because construction meaning:     profile logical cause in the discourse     space;     activate logical prosody of causat...
English causal cohesive harmony construction  meaning: profile necessary (logical) causal    coherence links through conne...
introduction construction   meaning:     identify genre; activate conceptual spaces for     blending; hypostasize entrench...
Construction inventory     (Croft and Cruse 2004)
Constructions are organized ina patterned inventory that issubject to both collectiveconvergence and individualdivergence.
The inventory is collectivelynegotiated both implicitlythrough imitation and explicitly.
Culture as inventory ofconstructions
Behaviours, beliefs, socialhierarchies, forms of speech =patterned inventory of form /meaning pairs
Culture cannot be summarizedby general principles. There areregularities and patterns ofmotivation but no determination.
Examples of culturalconstructions
The universal smile?
Russian shopkeepers should bemore friendly
Americans are insincere
SMILE___________Person you knowExpress happinessConfirm emotional relationship
SMILE___________Person you meetExpress generalconnection/acknowledgement
IMAGES OF SMILE / SAYINGSABOUT SMILING / …___________Smiling means friendlinessSmiling is better when sincereMore people s...
Collectivist /Individualist cultures(Hofstede, Culture‟sConsequences, 1983)http://geert-hofstede.com/dimensions.html
Individualist“a loosely-knit social frameworkin which individuals areexpected to take care ofthemselves and their immediat...
Collectivist“a tightly-knit framework insociety in which individuals canexpect their relatives ormembers of a particular i...
http://geert-hofstede.com/countries.html
United StatesChamber of CommerceTeams, organizations, etc.“No „I‟ in team”“Friends”
China / RussiaLocal government individualisticIndividuals in teamsFamily is the individual“Friends”
Wierzbicka1997
“I hate the prostitution of the     word friendship to signifymodish and worldly alliances.”  (Emerson cited by Wierzbicka...
“By contrast, the modern       expression close friend is not meant to have the same range of   referents as the word frie...
FRIEND (forms)_______________FRIEND (meanings)
“Ill be there for youWhen the rain starts to pourIll be there for youLike Ive been there beforeIll be there for youCuz you...
“How much money do you make now?” _______________ Knowledge of earnings of a personCzech friend, American spouse, Albanian...
Ladislav Holý1996
“ [Czechs] see themselves as       petty-minded, intellectually  limited, and mediocre, and yet       consider the Czech n...
Little England  “Little Englander is also, colloquially         speaking, an epithet applied in  criticisms of English peo...
Conclusion
Non-reductionist view of cultureis possible. Research needs tofocus on form/meaningpairings of differentgenerality not the...
If Levi-Strauss had met Langacker: Constructional foundations of cultural patterns
If Levi-Strauss had met Langacker: Constructional foundations of cultural patterns
If Levi-Strauss had met Langacker: Constructional foundations of cultural patterns
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If Levi-Strauss had met Langacker: Constructional foundations of cultural patterns

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Presentation delivered at Cognitive Futures of the Humanities http://www.bangor.ac.uk/cognitive-humanities/ on 5 April 2013.

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If Levi-Strauss had met Langacker: Constructional foundations of cultural patterns

  1. 1. If Levi-Strauss met Langacker:Constructional foundations ofcultural patternsDominik Lukeš@techczechhttp://metaphorhacker.net
  2. 2. Preliminaries
  3. 3. Can culture be taught thesame way that language can?Culture is more like languagethan we assume in thatlanguage is more like culturethan we assume.
  4. 4. Jakobsonvoiced / unvoiced cooked / rawLévi-Strauss
  5. 5. “I saw a guy at a party wearinga leather jacket and I thought,„That is cool.‟ But then I sawanother guy wearing a leathervest and I thought, „That is notcool‟. Then I figured it out: „Cool‟is all about leather sleeves.” – Demetri Martin
  6. 6. Langackerconstruction inventory ??????Levi-Strauss
  7. 7. CaveatWe need more than just usingterms from one field to labelphenomena in another withoutproviding a benefit.
  8. 8. (Radical)Constructional view oflanguage
  9. 9. Language =Constructions(meaning/form pairs) +Integration (blending)
  10. 10. Language is a structuredinventory of symbolic unitsUnits are best described asconstructions linking form andmeaningFormal and semanticcompositionality is the processof conceptual integration
  11. 11. Everything we know as wordsand rules are justconstructions.
  12. 12. Knowledge of linguistic units is thesame kind of knowledge as otherkinds of knowledge (encyclopedic)and exhibits the same kinds oforganizational, cognitive and socialproperties (incl. basic-level hierarchies,prototype category effects,underspecification, redundancy,conventionalization, culture/language-specificity, explication, negotiation)
  13. 13. Knowledge is structured byframes (cognitive models). (See talk on Frames.)
  14. 14. conceptual integration isconstrained, underspecified, opportunistic, dynamic, conventionalized
  15. 15. Meaning of constructions canbe very rich(encyclopedic/lexical – „horse‟)or very schematic(grammatical „N‟, „N+pl‟)
  16. 16. meaning / dog /___________ ___________form [dɔg]
  17. 17. / dog / / plural s/z/ɪz /___________ ___________[dɔg] [z]
  18. 18. / dogs / / sail /___________ ___________[dɔgz] [ s aɪ l ]
  19. 19. Constructions are of differentdegrees of schematicity (e.g.style is a construction) and theirworking is available forintrospection to various degrees(cf. Talmy)
  20. 20. because construction meaning: profile logical cause in the discourse space; activate logical prosody of causation form: [because] clause-initial (stressed) position + collocational patterns
  21. 21. English causal cohesive harmony construction meaning: profile necessary (logical) causal coherence links through connectives plus direction and/or semantic prosody of logical inference form: zero, for, because, so, therefore, thus, which is why, then plus English elegant variation
  22. 22. introduction construction meaning: identify genre; activate conceptual spaces for blending; hypostasize entrenched blends and activate gaps; establish credibility of author form: local grammars of introduction: opening statement, definition, anecdote (it is said, when I), analogy (just like), name-drop (it is Lakoff‟s claim), statement of generality (language is one of the most complex systems), statement of agreement (the concensus is)
  23. 23. Construction inventory (Croft and Cruse 2004)
  24. 24. Constructions are organized ina patterned inventory that issubject to both collectiveconvergence and individualdivergence.
  25. 25. The inventory is collectivelynegotiated both implicitlythrough imitation and explicitly.
  26. 26. Culture as inventory ofconstructions
  27. 27. Behaviours, beliefs, socialhierarchies, forms of speech =patterned inventory of form /meaning pairs
  28. 28. Culture cannot be summarizedby general principles. There areregularities and patterns ofmotivation but no determination.
  29. 29. Examples of culturalconstructions
  30. 30. The universal smile?
  31. 31. Russian shopkeepers should bemore friendly
  32. 32. Americans are insincere
  33. 33. SMILE___________Person you knowExpress happinessConfirm emotional relationship
  34. 34. SMILE___________Person you meetExpress generalconnection/acknowledgement
  35. 35. IMAGES OF SMILE / SAYINGSABOUT SMILING / …___________Smiling means friendlinessSmiling is better when sincereMore people should smile …
  36. 36. Collectivist /Individualist cultures(Hofstede, Culture‟sConsequences, 1983)http://geert-hofstede.com/dimensions.html
  37. 37. Individualist“a loosely-knit social frameworkin which individuals areexpected to take care ofthemselves and their immediatefamilies only”
  38. 38. Collectivist“a tightly-knit framework insociety in which individuals canexpect their relatives ormembers of a particular in-group to look after them inexchange for unquestioningloyalty”
  39. 39. http://geert-hofstede.com/countries.html
  40. 40. United StatesChamber of CommerceTeams, organizations, etc.“No „I‟ in team”“Friends”
  41. 41. China / RussiaLocal government individualisticIndividuals in teamsFamily is the individual“Friends”
  42. 42. Wierzbicka1997
  43. 43. “I hate the prostitution of the word friendship to signifymodish and worldly alliances.” (Emerson cited by Wierzbicka, p. 48)
  44. 44. “By contrast, the modern expression close friend is not meant to have the same range of referents as the word friend; it is indeed intended to stand for adifferent category of people, linked to the target person by a different kind of relationship.” Wierzbicka, p. 49
  45. 45. FRIEND (forms)_______________FRIEND (meanings)
  46. 46. “Ill be there for youWhen the rain starts to pourIll be there for youLike Ive been there beforeIll be there for youCuz youre there for me too...”“V nouzi poznáš přítele.”_______________Friendship is important Czech friend, American friend
  47. 47. “How much money do you make now?” _______________ Knowledge of earnings of a personCzech friend, American spouse, Albanian acquaintance
  48. 48. Ladislav Holý1996
  49. 49. “ [Czechs] see themselves as petty-minded, intellectually limited, and mediocre, and yet consider the Czech nation highly cultured and well educated. The coexistence ofthe two images poses constant dilemmas.” (p. 77)
  50. 50. Little England “Little Englander is also, colloquially speaking, an epithet applied in criticisms of English people who are regarded asxenophobic and/or overly nationalistic and are often accused of being "ignorant" and "boorish".” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Englander
  51. 51. Conclusion
  52. 52. Non-reductionist view of cultureis possible. Research needs tofocus on form/meaningpairings of differentgenerality not the identificationof general principles.

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