Language, Cognition and Society

Coordinator: Augusto Soares da Silva

The research group aims to investigate linguistic structures of Portuguese and other languages and media discourses as manifestations of socioculturally situated cognitive mechanisms and processes of conceptualization. Meaning, variation of meaning and its foundation in conceptualization, embodied experience, culture, and social interaction are the main focus of the group.

The group is organized into two research projects:

Project 1: Linguistic meaning and conceptualization: mind, experience, and variation

Project 2: Communication, media and audiences

In the framework of Cognitive Linguistics, Project 1 explores the perspectivist, experientialist and dynamic nature of meaning in Portuguese and other languages. It comprises four research topics: constructional meaning and conceptual perspectivization – causality, agency and modality; emotional meaning, cognition and culture; variation of meaning and the pluricentricity of Portuguese in European and Brazilian varieties; and change of meaning.

Project 2 develops studies on political communication and advertising, within a theoretical framework that entails knowledge from Communication Sciences, Critical Discourse Analysis and Cognitive Linguistics. It comprises research topics such as political discourse and ideology, cognitive and discourse strategies of persuasion and manipulation, and media, audiences and social contexts of play.

The theoretical framework of the group is Cognitive Linguistics, with the contribution of related models such as Functional Linguistics and Critical Discourse Analysis. Cognitive Linguistics is a recent and innovative approach to language as an integral facet of cognition which reflects the interaction between psychological, social, cultural, communicative and functional considerations. Methodologically, the group assumes a usage-based and meaning-based form of linguistic research and uses empirical methods, namely corpus-based and experimental techniques. The group intends to implement quantitative and multivariate methods enabling rigorous analysis of the correlations between conceptual, social, structural and functional factors.

Over the past five years the group has been focused on the lexicon and on some grammatical constructions. The group intends now to strengthen and extend the previous research in three directions: to the interaction between lexical and constructional meaning; to the interaction between conceptual and sociocultural factors of meaning variability; and to the interaction between meaning, grammar, discourse and ideology.

In a nutshell, the group aims:

  • to investigate the interaction between conceptual, sociocultural and discourse factors of meaning and meaning variability/change;
  • to analyze causality, agency, modality, and perception as prototype-based and dynamic categories of human thought and action;
  • to analyze the cognitive mechanisms (metaphor, metonymy, force dynamics) and the cultural determinations of emotion concepts;
  • to identify conceptual and social factors of the variation/change of meaning (e.g. intersubjectification);
  • to investigate political and advertizing discourses, exploring cognitive models of social and cultural identities and ideologies.