Through the Language Lens: the Relationship between Language, Culture and the Mind (SML3013)

StaffDr Susana Pinto Cavadas Afonso - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module aims at introducing you to a new perspective on language, i.e. the relationship between language and cognition and language and culture. The module will focus on how cognitive mechanisms like categorisation, attention and imagery are used in the production and understanding of language and how humans convey meaning through embodiment, i.e. how language conveys the human bodily experience of the world and how this may be shaped by culture. You will have the opportunity to analyse the language(s) you study according to principles of general cognition.   

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate an understanding of cognitive principles underlying language
  • 2. Demonstrate an understanding of how linguistic meaning is produced 
  • 3. Demonstrate an understanding of linguistic relativism
  • 4. Demonstrate the ability to analyse a range of data in the language(s) studied according to cognitive principles

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. Demonstrate familiarity and ability to draw on a range of research literature
  • 6. Argue at length and in detail about an aspect of the topic, supporting the argument with evidence from at least one language and with secondary literature.
  • 7. Use a range of linguistic critical terminology, applying it to independently researched material as well as to material introduced by the course tutor(s)

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 8. Develop analytical skills and use them to solve problems
  • 9. Undertake defined learning activities with a measure of autonomy
  • 10. Research, plan and write an essay to a specified length and deadline

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Categories, concepts and meanings: prototypes, frames
  • Embodiment of experience: image schemas, figurative language (metaphor, metonymy and fictive motion)
  • Construal of the world: conceptualization and construal operations
  • Meaning in grammar: the notion of construction
  • Language and culture: linguistic relativity

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and teaching activities1510 x 1.5 hours lectures and seminars
Scheduled Learning and Teaching1Conclusion
Guided Independent Study134Private study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Mini essay750 words1-10Written

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay1003000 words1-10Written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-10Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

  • Anderson, J. R. (2010).?Cognitive psychology and its implications. 7th ed. New York: Worth Publishing.
  • Croft, W. and D. Alan Cruse. (2004).?Cognitive linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Cruse, D. A. (2004). Meaning in Language: An Introduction to Semantics and Pragmatics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Fillmore, C. (1981). “Frame Semantics”. Linguistics in the Morning Calm. Seoul: Hanshin Publishing Company.
  • Fried, M. and Nikiforidou, K. (eds). (2013).?Advances in Frame Semantics. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Johnson, M. (1990). The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
  • Lakoff, G. (1987). Women, Fire and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal about the Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Lakoff, G. and Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Ungerer, F. and H.-J. Schmid. (2006).?An Introduction to Cognitive Linguistics. 2nd edn. Harlow: Longman.
  • Wierzbicka, A. (1988). ?The Semantics of Grammar. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

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Key words search

Linguistics, language and culture, language and mind