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Read my blog--Language in the Mind--published in Psychology Today
The Crucible of Language: [Author video] [Trailer video]

Vyv Evans

Professor of Linguistics

I am Professor of Linguistics at Bangor University, UK, and an expert in digital communication and English language usage. I investigate the prodigious capacity of our species, Homo sapiens, to mean during the course of communication. I have published around a dozen books on aspects of language, meaning, mind, imagination, and their evolution, and discuss these topics regularly in the popular written and broadcast media. I also consult to digital technology companies, and provide expert opinion to PR and marketing agencies on aspects of language and communication.

Access semantics
Since 2005, I have been developing a theoretical account of the intersection between the linguistic and conceptual systems, which subserve linguistically-mediated meaning construction. This I investigate in a book-length treatment:
How Words Mean, which develops an account of 'access semantics', the Theory of Lexical Concepts and Cognitive Models, also known as LCCM Theory. A monograph Language & Time develops a detailed application of LCCM Theory to the domain of time.

Public resources
--Vyv Evans' author page at Amazon has full details of all published books
--His profile at Watson, Little Literary Agency povides his writing credentials
--His author page at Cambridge University Press has details and excerpts from his Cambridge-published books
--His Google Scholar profile provides metrics and citations
--Vyv is listed as a "21st Century Star" by 21st Century Science magazine
--The Bloody Secret Life of Theories--Vyv Evans in conversation

interview with Vyv Evans was published in The Review of Cognitive Linguistics.

Vyv welcomes research applications from suitably qualified students--Vyv has successfully supervised around 25 PhD students, around 45 MA students, and more than 150 undergraduate honours dissertations.

Click here for an annotated Cognitive Linguistics

FEATURED: Emoji and digital communication

Image result for vyv evans

Is emoji a language? Vyv discussing the ways in which emoji is language-like--21st December 2015.

Are emojis the future of communication? Vyv talking about the role of emoji in digital communication--12th June 2015

How to be an emoji master Fun guide to using emoji, based on my research with TalkTalk Mobile--19th May 2015.

Interview on BBC2's Politics Today Show, UK--Nov 9th 2015

Interview on the Digital View programme, Sky News TV channel, UK--August 22nd 2015

Sky News--World Emoji Day UK: Vyv in discussion with lexicographer Jonathan Green on the function of emoji in communication--July 17th 2015

Eurospeak documentary, ARTE, France/Germany--6th June 2015

Channel 5/ITN national news, UK--May 19th, 2015

The Guardian's weekly tech podcast Vyv talking about how emoji better facilitates emotional expression in digital talk--10th July 2015

How do emojis mean? Babel: The Language Magazine--February2016

Does emoji spell the death of language? 21st December 2015

Beyond words: How language-like is emoji? Oxford Dictionaries blog--20th November 2015

Sign of our times: Why emojis can be even more powerful than words The Conversation--18th November, 2015

Are Emojis Becoming the New Universal 'Language'? Newsweek--18th September 2015

"Emojis have hit Hollywood--and thriller or rom-com, they'll take it by storm". The Conversation--3rd August 2015

"Language: Evolution in the digital age".
The Guardian--26th June 2015.

"Sorry, emoji doesn't make you dumber". Psychology Today--8th June 2015

"No, the rise of the emoji doesn't spell the end for language". Essay in The Conversation--22nd May 2015

Can emojis really be used to make terror threats? Article in The Guardian, February 2015

The Emoji Code: Language and the nature of communication (in prep.)

Vyv Evans

Vyvyan Evans
Professor of Linguistics
School of Linguistics & English Language,
Bangor University

@VyvEvans Vyv Evans LinkedIN

Past positions:
Professor of Cognitive Linguistics
University of Brighton

Senior Lecturer in Linguistics
Lecturer in Linguistics
University of Sussex

PhD in Linguistics received from Georgetown University, December 2000.

Email contact: v.evans AT
Represented by Donald Winchester @ Watson Little, literary agency, London

Language & Cognition Liaison Officer (and former President 2007-2014) of the UK Cognitive Linguistics Association


Editor-in-Chief of Language and Cognition:
An interdisciplinary journal of language and cognitive science


The Language MythThe Crucible of Language

The Crucible of Language:
[Author video] [Trailer video]

"How a joke can help us unlock the mystery of meaning in language"

CUP shop window

(Some books are available for download in their entirety; click on individual books to check availability)

Research monographs:  


Edited volumes:

 Language and Time


How Words Mean  

The Emoji Code (in prep.)

The Structure of Time

Cognitive Linguistics 

Language, Cognition and Space

The Semantics of English Prepositions

Glossary of Cognitive Linguistics






The Language Myth:
Why language is not an instinct

Vyvyan Evans

Published September 2014 by Cambridge University Press.
Turkish, Portuguese and Arabic language editions in preparation and to be published in 2015.

[Sample Chapter]

Challenging ill-conceived dogma--A response
An open letter to the editors of Language

Order the book here:

Language is central to our lives, the cultural tool that arguably sets us apart from other species.  Some scientists have argued that language is innate, a type of unique human ‘instinct’ pre-programmed in us from birth. In this book, Vyvyan Evans argues that this received wisdom is, in fact, a myth.

Debunking the notion of a language 'instinct', Evans demonstrates that language is related to other animal forms of communication; that languages exhibit staggering diversity; that we learn our mother tongue drawing on general properties and abilities of the human mind, rather than an inborn ‘universal’ grammar; that language is not autonomous but is closely related to other aspects of our mental lives; and that, ultimately, language and the mind reflect and draw upon the way we interact with others in the world.

Compellingly written and drawing on cutting-edge research, The Language Myth sets out a forceful alternative to the received wisdom, showing how language and the mind really work.

Table of Contents

1.  Language and mind rethought [PDF File]
                Taking stock of language
                Myths and realities
                A straw man?
                Lessons from evolution


5 . Is language a distinct module in the mind?
                On grammar genes and chatterboxes
                The chatterbox fallacy
                Alas, poor Darwin
                So, what’s the alternative to modularity?
                What’s all the fuss anyway?

2. Is human language unrelated to animal communication systems?
                From busy bees to startling starlings
                Communication in the wild
                Talking animals
                Design features for language
                But wherefore “design features”?
                All in the mind of the beholder
                Of chimps and men

6. Is there a universal Mentalese?
                Mentalese and the computational mind
                Wherefore meaning?
                Fodor’s retort
                Intelligent bodies, embodied minds
                Metaphors we live by
                Embodiment effects in the brain
                So, where does this leave us?


3. Are there language universals?
Linguistic diversity: A whistle-stop tour
                Universal Grammar meets (linguistic) reality
                Lessons from linguistic typology
                So, how and why does language change?
                The myth of proto-world
                Adieu, Universal Grammar




7. Is thought independent of language?
                Who’s afraid of the big bad Whorf?
                The rise of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
                Born to colour the world?
                The neo-Whorfian critique
                Lessons from Rossel Island
                Colour through the eyes of a child
                Pinker’s broadside
                Greek blues
                All about sex
                On time and space
                What is linguistic relativity anyway?

4 . Is language innate?
                An instinct for language?
                Arguments for the language instinct
                Lessons from neurobiology
                Lessons from language learning
                So how do children learn language?
                Towards a theory of language learning
                Learning what to say…from what isn’t said
                But couldn’t language emerge all at once?
                It’s all about language use!   

8. Language and mind regained
                Cultural intelligence and the ratchet effect
                The human interaction engine
                The rise of language
                What does our mental grammar look like?
                Universal scenes of experience
                Why are there so many languages?
                One final reflection…



“Is the way we think about language on the cusp of a revolution? After reading The Language Myth, it certainly looks as if a major shift is in progress, one that will open people's minds to liberating new ways of thinking about language.”
The New Scientist

"Voluminous and, on the whole, completely persuasive."
Fortean Times

"The Language Myth is a wide-ranging polemical dismissal of the received wisdom of many linguists. It’s worth reading also as a classic case study of an orthodoxy undergoing what Thomas Kuhn called a paradigm shift."
World Wide Words

"...a comprehensive presentation of the case that human verbal communication emerges from use...The general reader can read this book from cover to cover and learn a great deal about language that challenges the established traditions. Equally, the more experienced reader will benefit from the alternative perspective it offers, and from the comprehensive reference lists to support the arguments that Evans makes."
Time Higher Education

‘A much-needed, comprehensive critique of universal grammar. Vyvyan Evans builds a compelling case that will be difficult to refute.’
David Crystal, author of The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language, 3rd Edition.

‘Evans’ rebuttal of Chomsky’s Universal Grammar from the perspective of Cognitive Linguistics provides an excellent antidote to popular textbooks where it is assumed that the Chomskyan approach to linguistic theory (in one avatar or another) has somehow been vindicated once and for all.’
Michael Fortescue, Professor Emeritus, University of Copenhagen

‘The Language Myth builds a compelling case that there is no innate Universal Grammar. Evans's work is a welcome contribution to our understanding of the origin, nature, and use of human language.’
Daniel L. Everett, Dean of Arts and Sciences, Bentley University

Vyv Evans  


Media and reviews:
--Book review in The New Scientist 18 Oct 2014
--Interview on Newstalk national Irish radio; The Moncrieff Show, 4.05pm 15 Oct 2014
--Book review in World Wide Words, 2 Nov 2014
--Cambridge University Press Blog, Into the Intro, 3 Nov 2014
--Book review in the Times Higher Education 13 Nov 2014
--Popular science essay, based on The Language Myth, in Aeon magazine, 4th Dec 2014
--Full length interview broadcast on Australian radio programme, Talk the Talk, December 2014
--One hour live radio debate with Prof. Cynthia Hallen on grammar change, origins, evolution and usage, Brigham Young University Radio Station, Top of Mind show hosted by Julie Rose, 20th Feb 2015
--Appearance at the 2015 Edinburgh International Science Festival, April,
in discussion with linguistic anthropologist Thom Scott-Phillips, language processing expert Diarmuid Ó Séaghdha and primatologist Klaus Zuberbuehler—the event, ‘Speaking our minds’ took place on April 15th 2015.


The Crucible of Language  

The Crucible of Language:
How language and mind create meaning

Vyvyan Evans
ublished November 2015 by Cambridge University Press.
Turkish language edition in preparation.

Preface [PDF File]
Sample chapter [PDF File]

Time to rethink what makes humans special. Review in the New Scientist.

Essay based on the book in The Conversation: "How a joke can help us unlock the mystery of meaning in language"

Video:The Crucible of Language, explained by the author
View the book

From the barbed, childish taunt on the school playground, to the eloquent sophistry of a lawyer prising open a legal loophole in a court of law, meaning arises each time we use language to communicate with one another. How we use language - to convey ideas, make requests, ask a favour, express anger, love, dismay - is of the utmost importance; indeed, linguistic meaning can be a matter of life and death.  And yet, until relatively recently, the communicative value of language was relegated to all but the margins of scientific enquiry.

In The Crucible of Language Vyvyan Evans explains what we know, and what we do, when we communicate using language; he shows how linguistic meaning arises, where it comes from, and the way language enables us to convey the meanings that can move us to tears, bore us to death, or make us dizzy with delight.  Meaning is, he argues, one of the final frontiers in the mapping of the human mind.    

" In this highly readable book, Vyv Evans gives us a lucid and literate overview of the foundations of language in the human mind, social life and culture. The Crucible of Language is the best distillation of the state of art in language science for the general reader, and will surely be key reading in introductory courses in language and mind."
Chris Sinha, Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science, Hunan University

Table of Contents:

Preface [PDF File]

Part one: The ineffability of meaning

1. Unweaving a mystery
[PDF File]
           The common-place view of meaning
            And the word is…meaning

2. The alchemist, the crucible, and the ineffability of meaning

Language as a window on the mind
            The body in the mind
            Meaning is The Holy Grail
            Meaning in mind, meaning in language

Part two.  Meaning in mind

3.  Patterns in language, patterns in the mind
            Patterns in language
            Patterns in the mind
            All about events
            Computers behaving badly, and reluctant lovers
            Foundations of meaning
            Meaning in mind

4.  Time is our fruit fly
It’s only Tuesday
            A clock in the brain
            The many faces of time
            Time is our fruit fly
            Time in hand (and ear)
            So where does this leave us?
The mystery of time

5. Concepts body forth
The ghost in the machine
            The language of the body
            Concepts body forth
            Minds without bodies
            Laying the ghost to rest

6. The concept-making engine (or how to build a baby)
            How to build a baby
            The anatomy of an image-schema

            The rationalist’s retort
            Born to see structure in the world
            The concept-making engine
            Primary scenes of experience

7. The act of creation
A cognitive iceberg
            The act of creation
            Reducing complexity to human scale
            The power of blending
            The mystery of creativity

Part three.  Meaning in language

8.  Webs of words
Words are changelings
            Webs of words
            Does conceptual metaphor change word meanings?
            The illusion of semantic unity
            The encyclopaedic nature of meaning
            The private life of words

9.  Meaning in the mix
A design feature for human meaning-making
            The meaning of grammar
            Parametric concepts
            Meaning in the mix
            The anatomy of language
            Constructions in the mind
            To return to the beginning      

10. The cooperative species
            On the way to deeper matters
            Intelligence, tools and other minds
            The cooperative species

            Crossing the symbolic threshold
            Towards abstract symbolic reference 

11. The crucible of language
The long and winding road
            Becoming human
            What happened?
            How old is language?
            The birth of grammar
            The emergence of grammatical complexity
            The crucible of language and the rise of meaning

Epilogue: The golden triangle


  Image result for vyv evans


The Emoji Code:
Language and the future of communication

Vyvyan Evans

In preparation.


Language is the world’s most complex, naturally-occurring behaviour.  By the age of four, every typically-developing child on the planet is a linguistic genius—something beyond the ken of any other species.  And language is something that varies dramatically across different human populations, in diverse, and often startling ways—issues taken up in the book.  But more than that, language builds on an evolutionary deep-seated impulse to cooperate, massively expanding the human communicative potential.

            In the context of 21st century digital technology, human communication is entering uncharted territory, with new possibilities emerging for connecting with others.  The rapid adoption of emoji—deriving from the Japanese, meaning picture character—in less than four years by the world’s 2 billion smartphone users, makes it a rich (and well-recorded) case through which to explore the functions of language, how it evolves, and its role in communication. In The Emoji Code I discuss a wide range of issues, including grammar prescriptivism, the evolutionary origins of language, the social and cultural factors that govern language use, language change and its development. 

            The Emoji Code explores the expanding envelope of the human capacity to communicate.  It does so by examining the nature of communication, and the role of language in getting our ideas across and influencing others.  The book demonstrates that digital communication reuses similar strategies to those that already exist.  And so, the rise of emoji can be seen, in important respects, as a continuation of what has gone before, enabling us to better exploit a new communicative niche that further expands the human communicative potential. 

Table of Contents:

1. Is emoji the new universal 'language'?           
2. Speaking minds
3. Communicating empathy
4. Origins of the human communication potential
5. The changing word, a changing world
6. Back to Babel
7. Text speak
8. Culture vultures
9. Emotionally speaking
10. The future of communication          



  Language and Time


Language and Time:
A Cognitive Linguistics Approach

Vyvyan Evans
Cambridge University Press

Published October 2013. Arabic language edition in preparation.

Publisher book web page

[Sample Chapter]

Using language and thought to fix events in time is one of the most complex computational feats that humans perform. In the first book-length taxonomy of temporal frames of reference, Vyvyan Evans provides an overview of the role of space in structuring human representations of time. Challenging the assumption that time is straightforwardly structured in terms of space, he shows that while space is important for temporal representation, time is nevertheless separate and distinguishable from it. Evans argues for three distinct temporal frames of reference in language and cognition and evaluates the nature of temporal reference from a cross-linguistic perspective. His central thesis is that the hallmark of temporal reference is transience, a property unique to the domain of time. This important study has implications not only for the relationship between space and time, but also for that between language and figurative thought, and the nature of linguistically-mediated meaning construction.

"Time is at once familiar and mysterious. Its status in the physical universe may be uncertain and contested, cultural conceptions of it may vary dramatically, but time is fundamental to all human experience. Vyv Evans furnishes linguists and other researchers with important new tools for thought about this fascinating domain."
Professor Chris Sinha, President of the International Cognitive Linguistics Association

Table of Contents

PART I  Orientation
1.  Introduction [PDF File]
2.  Acess semantics

PART II  Temporal Frames of Reference
3.  The nature of temporal reference
4.  Deictic temporal reference
5.  Sequential temporal reference
6. Extrinsic temporal reference
7. Time versus space

PART III  Meaning Construction and temporal reference
8 .  Conceptual metaphors and lexical concepts
9. Figurative meaning construction in LCCM Theory
10. Semantic affordances and temporal reference
11. Universals and diversity in the cross-linguistic respresentation of time


How Words Mean


How Words Mean:
Lexical concepts, cognitive models and meaning construction

Vyvyan Evans

Published September 2009 by Oxford University Press.

ISBN: 9780199234677 (paperback

Korean language edition published in 2012.


[Sample chapter]

[How to order]


How words mean introduces a new approach to the role of words and other linguistic units in the construction of meaning. It does so by addressing the interaction between non-linguistic concepts and the meanings encoded in language. It develops an account of how words are understood when we produce and hear language in situated contexts of use. It proposes two theoretical constructs, the lexical concept and the cognitive model. These are central to the accounts of lexical representation and meaning construction developed, giving rise to the Theory of Lexical Concepts and Cognitive Models (or LCC M Theory). 

The book integrates and advances recent developments in cognitive science, particularly in cognitive linguistics and cognitive psychology.  It advances a framework for the understanding and analysis of meaning that is at once descriptively adequate and psychologically plausible. In so doing it also addresses current issues in lexical semantics and semantic compositionality, polysemy, figurative language, and the semantics of time and space, and is written in a way that will be accessible to students of linguistics and cognitive science at advanced undergraduate level and above.  

Notable Features of the Book

· Synthesises and advances recent work in cognitive linguistics and cognitive psychology in terms of the nature of lexical representation and meaning construction.  
· Presents a revised theory of the role of words in language understanding.  
· Addresses the status of contemporary theories of grammar and meaning with respect to their
      contribution to language understanding

· Addresses key issues such as figurative language and polysemy, providing a revised way of thinking about these phenomena.
· Provides up-to-date coverage of important areas of semantic structure including Time and Space.
· Written so as to be accessible to experts in linguistics and cognitive science, as well as educated lay-readers

Table of Contents

Part 1  Introduction
1.   Words and meaning [PDF File]
2.   Towards a new account of word meaning
3.   Cognitive linguistics
4.   Word meaning in LCCM Theory  

Part II  Lexical representation
5.   Symbolic units
6.   Semantic structure
7.   Lexical concepts
8.   Polysemy
9.   Conceptual structure
10. Cognitive models

Part III  Semantic compositionality
11.  Lexical concept selection
12.  Lexical concept integration
13. Interpretation

Part IV  Figurative language and thought
14.  Metaphor and metonymy
15.  The semantics of Time

Part V  Conclusion

16.  LCCM Theory in context



The Structure of Time: 
Language, meaning and temporal cognition

Vyvyan Evans

[Download entire book] (See copyright notice before downloading)

Published by John Benjamins  
(Human Cognitive Processing series)
Hardback (March 2004)

Paperback (January 2006)
  [Book details]
90 272 2367 X

[How to order]    [Sample chapter]

One of the most enigmatic aspects of experience concerns time. Since pre-Socratic times scholars have speculated about the nature of time, asking questions such as: What is time? Where does it come from? Where does it go? The central proposal of The Structure of Time is that time, at base, constitutes a phenomenologically real experience. Drawing on findings in psychology, neuroscience, and utilising the perspective of cognitive linguistics, this work argues that our experience of time may ultimately derive from perceptual processes, which in turn enable us to perceive events. As such, temporal experience is a pre-requisite for abilities such as event perception and comparison, rather than an abstraction based on such phenomena. The book represents an examination of the nature of temporal cognition with two foci: i) an investigation into (pre-conceptual) temporal experience, and ii) an analysis of temporal structure at the conceptual level (which derives from temporal experience).

Time belongs to the bedrock of human cognition. Beginning before birth and remaining for the most part below the horizon of consciousness, temporal cognition is a mystery not easily penetrated. The Structure of Time is an indispensable investigation, rich in theory and examples, into the phenomenology and the linguistics of the way we think about time.”
Mark Turner, Institute Professor, Case Western Reserve University

With this work, Cognitive Linguistics finally turns its attention from Space to Time.”
Jordan Zlatev, Lund University, Sweden

This work is interesting, creative, thought-provoking, and timely (no pun intended)”
Wallace Chafe, University of California at Santa Barbara

“[...] thought provoking and inspiring. It is a valuable interdisciplinary source for insight in several domains, including lexical semantics, conceptual metaphor theory, and cognitive science in the area of time.”
Thora Tenbrink, University of Bremen , Germany , on Linguist List 15-2430 (2004)

“ In general, the style of the book is very accessible, especially in view of the fact that so many different fields are touched upon. The conclusions at the end of each chapter additionally contribute to the reader's comprehension. The book is therefore accessible not only to linguistics and cognitive scientists but to researchers from any field interested in the phenomenon of time.”
Nadja Nesselhauf, Univeristy of Heidelberg , in Anglistik 16(1), 2005



The Semantics of English Prepositions:
Spatial Scenes, Embodied Meaning, and Cognition

Andrea Tyler and Vyvyan Evans
Published June 2003 by Cambridge University Press.

Paperback: ISBN-13: 9780521044639
Hardback: 10: 0521814308 | 13: 9780521814300

E-book edition: B00074QG3O

[How to order]

[Preface]   [Sample chapter]   [Publisher]







Using a cognitive linguistics perspective, this book provides the most comprehensive, theoretical analysis of the semantics of English prepositions available. All English prepositions originally coded spatial relations between two physical entities; while retaining their original meaning, prepositions have also developed a rich set of non-spatial meanings. In this innovative study, Tyler and Evans argue that all these meanings are systematically grounded in the nature of human spatio-physical experience. The original ‘spatial scenes’ provide the foundation for the extension of meaning from the spatial to the more abstract. This analysis articulates a new methodology that distinguishes between a conventional meaning and an interpretation produced for understanding the preposition in context, as well as establishing which of several competing senses should be taken as the primary sense. Together, the methodology and framework are sufficiently articulated to generate testable predictions and allow the analysis to be applied to additional prepositions.  

Korean language edition published 2004  

[Preface for the Korean edition]

1. The nature of meaning
2. Embodied meaning and spatial experience
3. Towards a model of principled polysemy: spatial scenes and conceptualization
4. The case of over
5. The vertical axis
6. Spatial particles of orientation
7. Bounded landmarks
8. Conclusion



Japanese language edition published 2005 by Kenkyusha Publishing Company




Cognitive Linguistics (Second edition)


Cognitive Linguistics, second edition:
An Introduction

Vyvyan Evans

To be published 2017 by Edinburgh University Press.

In the second edition of this best-selling introduction to Cognitive Linguistics, Vyvyan Evans revises and updates the entire contents. Featuring eight brand new chapters, the second edition provides an up-to-date and authoritative general introduction to cognitive linguistics. The book will appeal to students learning about cognitive linguistics, as well as researchers from linguistics and neighbouring fields seeking a comprehensive, yet accessible overview of the cognitive linguistics enterprise.

Table of Contents (second edition)

1              What does it mean to know a language?               
2              The nature of cognitive linguistics: Assumptions and commitments
3              Foundations of experience I: Space
4              Foundations of experience II: Time
5              Language in use: Knowledge of language, language change, and acquisition
6              Key topics in language science: The view from cognitive linguistics
7              Doing research in cognitive linguistics

PART II:  CONCEPTUAL STRUCTURE                     
8              What is a cognitive approach to conceptual structure?       
9              Image schemas and the emergence of concepts
10           Categorisation and idealised cognitive models                                                                 
11           Conceptual metaphor
12           Conceptual metonymy   

13           What is a cognitive approach to semantics?
14           The encyclopaedic view of meaning   
15           Word meaning and radial categories                      
16           Access semantics and meaning construction
17           Mental spaces and discourse meaning  
18           Conceptual blending              
19           Cognitive approaches to meaning in context      

20           What is a cognitive approach to grammar?          
21           The embodied basis of language structure                                                
22           The conceptual basis of grammar
23           Aspects of Cognitive Grammar                              
24           Accounting for irregularity in grammar                     
25           Aspects of Construction Grammar(s)    
26           Grammaticalisation                                                                                               
27           Cognitive approaches to grammar in context  

28           Applied cognitive linguistics
29           Cognitive poetics
30           Cognitive approaches to gesture and sign language




Cognitive Linguistics:
An Introduction

Vyvyan Evans and Melanie Green

Published January 2006 in North America by Lawrence Erlbaum (Taylor & Francis), and by Edinburgh University Press throughout the rest of the world.

: 0805860134 (N. America)  0748618317 (Rest of world)
Paperback: 0805860142 ( N. America ),
0748618325 (Rest of world)

[How to order]      [Sample chapter]

Other editions:
Korean language edition published by Hankookmunhwasa Publishing, April 2008.
 [Preface to the Korean language edition]

Chinese language edition published by Beijing World Publishing Corporation.

An authoritative general introduction to cognitive linguistics, this book provides up-to-date coverage of all areas of the field and sets in context recent developments within cognitive semantics (including primary metaphors, conceptual blending and Principled Polysemy), and cognitive approaches to grammar (including Radical Construction Grammar and Embodied Construction Grammar). While all topics are introduced in terms accessible to both undergraduate and postgraduate students, this work is sufficiently comprehensive and detailed to serve as a reference work for scholars from linguistics and neighbouring disciplines who wish to gain a better understanding of cognitive linguistics. The book is divided into three parts (The cognitive linguistics enterprise; Cognitive semantics; and Cognitive approaches to grammar), and is therefore suitable for a range of different course types, both in terms of length and level, as well as in terms of focus. In addition to defining the field, the text also includes appropriate critical evaluation. Complementary and potentially competing approaches are explored both within the cognitive approach and beyond it. In particular, cognitive linguistics is compared and contrasted with formal approaches including Generative Grammar, formal approaches to semantics, and Relevance Theory.

Contents (830 pages)

I. Overview of the Cognitive Linguistics Enterprise
1. What Does it Mean to Know a Language?
2. The Nature of Cognitive Linguistics: Assumptions and Commitments
3. Universals and Variation in Language, Thought and Experience
4. Language in Use: Knowledge of Language, Language Change and Language Acquisition
II. Cognitive Semantics
What is Cognitive Semantics?
6. Embodiment and Conceptual Structure 
7. The Encyclopaedic View of Meaning
8. Categorisation and Idealised Cognitive Models
9. Metaphor and Metonymy
10. Word-meaning and Radial Categories
11. Meaning-construction and Mental Spaces
12. Conceptual Blending
13. Cognitive Semantics in Context
III. Cognitive Approaches to Grammar
What is a Cognitive Approach to Grammar?
15. The Conceptual Basis of Grammar
16. Cognitive Grammar: Word Classes
17. Cognitive Grammar: Constructions
18.  Cognitive Grammar: Tense, Aspect, Mood and Voice 
19. Motivating a Construction Grammar
20. The Architecture of Construction Grammars
21. Grammaticalisation
22. Cognitive Approaches to Grammar in Context
IV. Conclusion
Assessing the Cognitive Linguistics Enterprise

"This book provides a clear, careful and comprehensive introduction to what the authors call the ‘cognitive linguistics enterprise’, including cognitive semantics and cognitive grammar, synchronic and diachronic approaches, linguistic and socio-cultural perspectives, universal and language specific matters, older topics such as prototype theory, newer ones, such as blending and much more."
Brigitte Nerlich, University of Nottingham

Its breadth is unparalleled, the incorporation of exercises is a definite strength as well.”
Adele Goldberg, Princeton University .

“I whole-heartedly congratulate Evans & Green for their laborious work and, accordingly, recommend it to be used as a textbook … indispensable reading
The Linguist List

“This massive yet reasonably priced book provides a very useful guide to major parts of the 'cognitive' strand of linguistics and I have no doubt that every cognitive linguist will want it as a reference book.”  THES




A Glossary of Cognitive Linguistics


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Published by University of Utah Press ( N. America ) and Edinburgh University Press (rest of world). Chinese language edition in preparation.

Paperback: 978-0-87480-914-5 ( N. America )
Paperback: 0748622802/ 978 0 7486 2280 1 (rest of world)

256 pages

Published May 2007.  

A Korean language edition will be published by Hankookmunhwasa Publishing in 2009.

A Polish language edition was published in 2010 by

[How to Order]    [UK Publisher]  [US Publisher]   

Cognitive linguistics is one of the most rapidly expanding schools in linguistics with, by now, an impressive and complex technical vocabulary. This alphabetic guide gives an up-to-date introduction to the key terms in cognitive linguistics, covering all the major theories, approaches, ideas and many of the relevant theoretical constructs. The Glossary also features a brief introduction to cognitive linguistics, a detailed annotated reading list and a listing of some of the key researchers in cognitive linguistics. The Glossary can be used as a companion volume to Cognitive Linguistics, by Vyvyan Evans and Melanie Green, or as a stand-alone introduction to cognitive linguistics and its two hitherto best developed sub-branches: cognitive semantics, and cognitive approaches to grammar. 

Key features:

·     A handy and easily understandable pocket guide for anyone embarking on courses in cognitive linguistics, and language and mind.
·     Supplies numerous cross-references to related terms.
·       Includes coverage of newer areas such as Radical Construction Grammar, Embodied Construction Grammar, Primary Metaphor Theory and Principled Polysemy.

"This Glossary is impressively exhaustive in its coverage. It will be an indispensable aid to students in linguistics and other disciplines who need to understand a theory which is now coming of age, and advanced researchers will also find it a useful companion both for reference and for helping to access original texts."
Chris Sinha, Professor of Psychology, Lund University, Sweden

Cognitive Linguistics is now developing rapidly, and, like all new fields, this one has developed its own technical meta-language. Anyone needing a jargon-free guide through this fascinating new terrain will find exactly what is needed in Vyv Evans’ joined-up explanations of the landmark concepts and theories. The Glossary is far more than an alphabetical list – it gives unity and coherence to the Cognitive Linguistics project."
Professor Paul Chilton, University of Lancaster




The Cognitive Linguistics Reader

Edited by Vyvyan Evans
, Benjamin K. Bergen and Jörg Zinken

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Published by Equinox Publishers, November 2007

[How to order]      [Book details]




Cognitive Linguistics is the most rapidly expanding school in modern Linguistics. It aims to create a scientific approach to the study of language, incorporating the tools of philosophy, neuroscience and computer science. Cognitive approaches to language were initially based on philosophical thinking about the mind, but more recent work emphasizes the importance of convergent evidence from a broad empirical and methodological base.

The Cognitive Linguistics Reader brings together the key writings of the last two decades, both the classic foundational pieces and contemporary work. The essays and articles - selected to represent the full range, scope and diversity of the Cognitive Linguistics enterprise - are grouped by theme into sections with each section separately introduced. The book opens with a broad overview of Cognitive Linguistics designed for the introductory reader and closes with detailed further reading to guide the reader through the proliferating literature. 

The Reader is both an ideal introduction to the full breadth and depth of Cognitive Linguistics and a single work of reference bringing together the most significant work in the field. 


List of contributors
Original sources of papers

I  Overview
  Evans, Vyvyan, Benjamin K. Bergen and Jörg Zinken.  The Cognitive Linguistics Enterprise
An Overview
[PDF file]

II  Empirical methods in cognitive linguistics
Sectional Introduction
2.  Gibbs, Raymond W. Why Cognitive Linguists Should Care More About
Empirical Methods.

3.  Cuyckens, Hubert, Sandra Dominiek and Sally Rice.  Towards an Empirical Lexical Semantics.  
4. Stefanowitsch, Anatol and Stefan Th. Gries.  Collostructions: Investigating the Interaction of Words and Constructions.
5.  Coulson, Seana and Cyma Van Petten.  Conceptual Integration and  Metaphor: An Event-related Potential Study.

III  Prototypes, polysemy and word-meaning 
Sectional Introduction
6.  Lakoff, George.  Cognitive Models and Prototype Theory
7. Geeraerts, Dirk. Where does Prototypicality Come From?
8.  Tyler, Andrea and Vyvyan Evans.  Reconsidering Prepositional Polysemy Networks: The Case of over.
9. Fillmore, Charles.  Frame Semantics.

IV  Metaphor, metonymy and blending
Sectional Introduction
10.  Lakoff, George.  The Contemporary Theory of Metaphor
11.  Grady, Joseph.  A Typology of Motivation for Conceptual Metaphor: Correlation vs. Resemblance
12.  Radden, Günter and Zoltán Kövecses. Towards a Theory of Metonymy.
13.  Fauconnier, Gilles and Mark Turner.  Conceptual Integration Networks
14.  Grady, Joseph, Todd Oakley and Seana Coulson.  Blending and Metaphor.

V  Cognitive approaches to grammar
Sectional Introduction
15.  Langacker, Ronald W.  An Introduction to Cognitive Grammar.
16.  Talmy, Leonard.  The Relation of Grammar to Cognition.  
17.  Fillmore, Charles, Paul Kay and Mary Catherine O’Connor.  Regularity and Idiomaticity: The Case of let alone. 
18.  Goldberg, Adele. Constructions: A New Theoretical Approach to Language.
19.  Bergen , Benjamin K. and Nancy Chang.  Embodied Construction Grammar in Simulation-based Language Understanding.  
20.  Croft, William.  Logical and Typological Arguments for Radical Construction Grammar.

VI  Conceptual structure in language
Sectional Introduction
21.  Talmy, Leonard.  Force Dynamics in Language and Cognition.
22.  Evans, Vyvyan. How we Conceptualise Time: Language, Meaning and Temporal Cognition.
23.  Talmy, Leonard.  How Language Structures Space.              

VII  Language acquisition, diversity and change
Sectional Introduction
24.  Tomasello, Michael. A Usage-based Approach to Child Language Acquisition.
25.  Melissa Bowerman and Soonja Choi.  Space Under Construction: Language- specific Spatial Categorization in First Language Acquisition
26.  Boroditsky, Lera.  Does Language Shape Thought? English and Mandarin Speakers' Conceptions of Time.
27.  Slobin, Dan.  Language and Thought Online: Cognitive Consequences of Linguistic Relativity.
28.  Croft, William.  Linguistic Selection: An Utterance-based Evolutionary Theory of Language. 

Annotated guide to further reading




New Directions in Cognitive Linguistics

Edited by Vyvyan Evans and Stéphanie Pourcel

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Published June 2009 by John Benjamins (in the Human Cognitive Processing series)


This volume forms a coherent collection of original papers relating to new directions in Cognitive Linguistics.  Cognitive Linguistics is now, nearly 30 years after the publication of one its seminal texts, Metaphors We Live By, a mature theoretical and empirical enterprise, with, by now, a voluminous associated literature.  Indeed, it is arguably the most rapidly expanding ‘school’ in modern linguistics, and one of the most exciting areas of research within the interdisciplinary project known as cognitive science.  As such, Cognitive Linguistics is increasingly attracting a broad readership both within linguistics as well as from neighbouring disciplines including other cognitive and social sciences, and from disciplines within the humanities. The volume surveys new approaches to established phenomena in Cognitive Linguistics, including approaches to figurative language, lexicalisation patterns, cross-linguistic variation, grammar, and the relationship between language, conceptual structure and experience.  In addition, the volumes also showcase a representative selection of both new methodological and empirical approaches now increasingly being deployed in Cognitive Linguistics. 

Table of Contents

Vyvyan Evans & Stéphanie Pourcel                      

I  Approaches to Semantics: Theory and Method
1.  Meaning as input: The instructional perspective 
Peter Harder
2.  Semantic representation in LCCM Theory
[PDF File]
Vyvyan Evans
3.  Behavioral profiles: A corpus-based approach to cognitive semantic analysis
Stefan Th. Gries & Dagmar Divjak
4.  Polysemy, syntax and variation: A usage-based method for cognitive semantics
Dylan Glynn

II  Approaches to Metaphor and Blending: Theory and Method
5.  Solving the riddle of metaphor

Mimi Huang
  When is a linguistic metaphor a conceptual metaphor?
Daniel Casasanto
  Generalised integration networks
Gilles Fauconnier                                        
  Genitives and proper names in constructional blends
Barbara Dancygier                                      

III  Approaches to Grammar: Theory and Method
9.  What’s (in) a construction? Non-predictability vs. entrenchment as criterial attributes
Arne Zeschel                                                           
10 .  Words as constructions
Ewa Dabrowska                                           
11.  Constructions and constructional meaning
Ronald Langacker                                                  
12.  Partonomic structures in syntax
Edith Moravcsik

IV  Language, Embodiment and Cognition: Theory and Application
13.  Language as biocultural niche and social institution
Chris Sinha
14. Understanding embodiment: Psycphysiological Models in
traditional medical systems

Magda Altman                                                         

15.  Get and the grasp schema: A new approach to conceptual modelling in image schema semantics

Paul Chilton

16.  Motion scenarios in cognitive process

V  Extensions and Applications of Cognitive Linguistics
17. Toward a social cognitive linguistics
William Croft                                    
18. Cognitive and linguistic factors in evaluating text quality: global versus local?
Ruth Berman and Bracha Nir-Sagiv                    
19.  Reference points and dominion in narratives:  A discourse level exploration of the reference point model of anaphora
Sarah van Vliet                                
20.  The dream as blend in David Lynch's Mulholland Drive
Johanna Rubba          
21.  “I was in that room!”: Conceptual integration of context and content in a writer’s vs. a prosecutor’s description of a murder
Esther Pascual




Language, Cognition and Space:
The state of the art and new directions

Edited by Vyvyan Evans and Paul Chilton


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Published May 2010.

This edited volume is published by Equinox Publishing Company.

Hardback:   ISBN-13: 9781845532529

Paperback: ISBN-13: 9781845535018

[View publisher book details]       

Spatial perception and cognition is fundamental to human abilities to navigate through space, identify and locate objects, and track entities in motion. Moreover, research findings in the last couple of decades reveal that many of the mechanisms humans employ to achieve this are largely innate, providing abilities to store ‘cognitive maps’ for locating themselves and others, locations, directions and routes. In this humans are like many other species. However, unlike other species, humans can employ language in order to represent space. The human linguistic ability combined with the human ability for spatial representation apparently results in rich, creative and sometimes surprising extensions of representations for three-dimensional physical space. The present volumes bring together 19 articles from leading scholars who investigate the relationship between spatial cognition and spatial language.  The volume is fully representative of the state of the art in terms of language and space research, and point to new directions in terms of findings, theory, and practice. 

Table of Contents
I  perception and space

1.  The perceptual basis of spatial representation.  Vyvyan Evans ( Bangor University )  [PDF File]


II THE I nteraction between language and spatial cognition
2. Language and space: Momentary interactions.  Barbara Landau, Banchiamlack Dessalegn, and Ariel Micah Goldberg ( Johns Hopkins University )

3.  Language and inner space.  Benjamin Bergen, Carl Polley, and Kathryn Wheeler  (University of Hawai’i, Manoa)


III psycho- and neuro-linguistic approaches to spatial representation
4.  Inside in and on: Typological and psycholinguistic perspectives Michele Feist  ( University of Louisiana at Lafayette )
5.  Parsing space around objectsLaura Carlson  ( University of Notre Dame)
6.  A neuroscientific perspective on the linguistic encoding of categorical spatial relations.  David Kemmerer  ( Purdue University )

IV  theoretical approaches to spatial representation in language

7.  The genesis of spatial terms.  Claude Vandeloise  (Louisiana State University)

8.  Forceful prepositions.  Joost Zwarts (Radboud University Nijmegen & Utrecht University)

9.  From the spatial to the non-spatial: The ‘state’ lexical concepts of in, on and at.  Vyvyan Evans  ( Bangor University )  [PDF file]  

spatial representation in specific languages
10.  Static topological relations in Basque.  Iraide Ibarretxe-Antuñano (Universidad de Zaragoza)
11.   Taking the Principled Polysemy Model of Spatial Particles Beyond English: The Case of Russian za.  Darya Shakhova and Andrea Tyler ( Georgetown University )
12.  Frames of reference, effects of motion, and lexical meanings of Japanese FRONT/BACK terms.  Kazuko Shinohara ( University of Agriculture and Technology, Tokyo ) and Yoshihiro Matsunaka  ( Tokyo Polytechnic University )

VI SPACE In gesture and sign-language 
How spoken language and signed language structure space differently.  Leonard Talmy  ( State University of New York , Buffalo )
14.  Geometric and image-schematic patterns in gesture space
Irene Mittelberg (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

15.  Translocation, language and the categorization of experience.  Jordan Zlatev, Johan Blomberg ( Lund University ), and Caroline David (
Université de Montpellier 3)
16.  Motion: A conceptual typology.  Stéphanie Pourcel  ( Bangor University

  VIII THE relation between space, time and modality
17.  Space for thinking.  Daniel Casasanto ( Stanford University
18.  Temporal frames of reference.  Jörg Zinken  ( Portsmouth University )
From mind to grammar: Coordinate systems, prepositions, constructions.  Paul Chilton  ( University of Lancaster ) 



Language Learning, Discourse and Cognition:

Studies in the tradition of Andrea Tyler

Edited by Lucy Pickering and Vyvyan Evans

Under contract and to be published by John Benjamins (in the Human Cognitive Processing series)


This volume constitutes a collection of original, thematically-related studies at the nexus of discourse analysis, cognitive linguistics and second language learning. The intersection of these three overlapping areas of study has been developed in detail in the pioneering research program of Andrea Tyler over the last three decades.  At the broadest level, Tyler’s research has addressed such fundamental questions as: When humans communicate, what happens? How is that communication accomplished in its natural context? How can this help us understand second language learning? The present volume brings together a seminal collection of papers by internationally-profiled researchers who work within, or have been influenced by this tradition.  In particular, the volume approaches these questions from the perspective of usage-based models of language (acquisition) with applicability to both L1 and L2 studies, and with a focus on discourse analytic and cognitive perspectives. 

Table of Contents

Part 1: Discourse Perspectives
1. Gender, Ethnicity, Culture & Identity: Crosscultural Communicative Competence in American University Classrooms
Catherine Davies, University of Alabama
2. Discourse-structuring devices revisited: Building on Tyler’s early insights regarding international teaching assistant comprehensibility
Gordon Tapper, University of Florida; Grazyna Drzazga, McMaster University; Maria Mendoza, Florida State University & Jennifer Grill, Florida State University
3. Senior Confessions: Narratives of Self-Disclosure
Diana Boxer, University of Florida
4. Academic Discourse of Research articles: Textual structure and organization
Budsaba Kanoksilapatham

Part 2: Cognitive Perspectives
5. The speech went on (and on) as Kerry dozed off (?and off):   A Conceptual Grammar approach to on and off
Susan Strauss, Penn State University
6. Synthesthetic metaphors of sound: An analysis of the semantics of English adjectives
Mari Tsujita, University of the Sacred Heart
7. The nature of semantic representations: Principled Polysemy and LCCM Theory compared and contrasted
Vyvyan Evans, Bangor University
8. Syllables as socially entrenched sensory-motor schemata
Boris Fridman Mintz, Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia

Part 3: Applications to L2 Teaching & Learning
9. Cognitive Linguistics and Sociocultural Psychology: A Meaningful Relationship
James Lantolf,  Penn State University
10. Formulaicity & Context in Second Language Acquisition
Kathleen Bardovi-Harlig, Indiana University
11. Overpassivization in a Second Language Revisited: A Usage-Based Study
Lourdes Ortega, Georgetown University; Sang-Ki Lee, Korea National University of Education; Munehiko Miyata, Senshu University
12. Like a sponge: Cognitive Usage-based second language teaching
Carol Moder , Oklahoma State University
13. The Effect of Learning Environment on L2 Storytelling Processes
Yuko Nakahama, Keio University
14. The Use of Hedging Devices in L2 Legal Writing: a Cognitive Functional Perspective
Natalia Jacobsen, George Washington University    


Selected Articles


LCCM Theory

Cognitive Linguistic Theory

Encyclopaedia and
Handbook entries

The Language of Time

The Language of Space

Cognitive Linguistics and Pedagogical Grammar

Popular science

  Comment and reply

  Book reviews

Popular Science

Why Only Us: The Language Paradox. Review of book by Berwick and Chomsky, published in New Scientist, February 2016.

How do emojis mean? Babel: The Language Magazine--February 2016

How a joke can help us unlock the mystery of meaning in language The Conversation--November 2015

Does emoji spell the death of language? 21st December 2015

Beyond words: How language-like is emoji? Oxford Dictionaries blog--20th November 2015

Sign of our times: Why emojis can be even more powerful than words The Conversation--18th November, 2015

Are Emojis Becoming the New Universal 'Language'? Newsweek--18th September 2015

"Emojis have hit Hollywood--and thriller or rom-com, they'll take it by storm". The Conversation--3rd August 2015

"Language: Evolution in the digital age".
The Guardian--26th June 2015.

"Sorry, emoji doesn't make you dumber". Psychology Today--8th June 2015

"No, the rise of the emoji doesn't spell the end for language". Essay in The Conversation--22nd May 2015

Can emojis really be used to make terror threats? Article in The Guardian, February 2015

Real Talk. The evidence is in: There is no language instinct. Essay published in Aeon, popular science magazine. December 4th 2014.

Comment and Reply articles

Leaving the Myth Behind: A Reply to Adger (2005)-- with Christina Behme. Published 2015 in Lingua. [PDF File]

Cooperative intelligence and recipient design as drivers for language biases in homesign systems. Commentary on Goldin-Meadow. (2015). Language, Cognition & Neuroscience. [PDF File]

Simulation Semantics and the Linguistics of Time – A Response to Zwaan.  2008. In P. Indefrey & M. Gullberg (eds.). The cognitive and neural prerequisites of time in language.  Language Learning 58:Suppl. 1, pp. 27–33.  [PDF File]

The Theory of Lexical Concepts & Cognitive Models (aka LCCM THEORY)

Design features for linguistically-mediated meaning construction: The relative roles of the linguistic and conceptual systems in subserving the ideational function of language. [PDF File] Published 2016 in Frontiers in Psychology.

Recent research in language and cognitive science proposes that the linguistic system evolved to provide an executive control system on the evolutionarily more ancient conceptual system (e.g., Barsalou et al. 2009; Bergen 2012; Evans 2009, In press a).  In short, the claim is that representations in the linguistic system interface with non-linguistic representations in the conceptual system, facilitating rich meanings, or ‘simulations, enabling linguistically-mediated communication.  In this paper I review empirical findings to support this contention, and outline arguments, based on linguistic analysis, to further elaborate the implications of such a perspective.  In particular, I make the case for two design-features, of language and the conceptual system that subserve linguistically-mediated meaning construction.    

Conceptual vs. Inter-lexical Polysemy: An LCCM Theory Account. 2015. Language and thought: Contemporary cognitive linguistics / Compiled by A. A. Kibrik and A. D. Koshelev. Ed. by A. A. Kibrik, A. D. Koshelev, A. V. Kravchenko, Ju. V. Mazurova, and O. V. Fedorova. — Moscow: Languages of Slavic Culture, 2015. — 848 pp. — (“Language and Reasoning” series). [PDF File, in English], [PDF File in Russian] Volume title page here.

In this paper, I consider two types of polysemy that haven't received wide attention in the cognitive linguistics literature. While polysemy, within this tradition, is normally considered to involve First, I argue that polysemy can also arise from the non-linguistic knowledge to which words facilitate access.  This phenomenon I refer to as conceptual polysemy.  I illustrate this with an analysis of the lexical item book.  Moreover, polysemy also arises from different word forms which, at least on first blush, appear to share a common semantic representation.  This phenomenon I refer to as inter-lexical polysemy.  I illustrate with a detailed case study involving an analysis of the prepositional forms in and on.  I draw on the Theory of Lexical Concepts and Cognitive Models (LCCM Theory, Evans 2006, 2009, 2013), to account for these phenomena.

Russian title, and abstract:
Концептуальная и межсловная полисемия: анализ в терминах теории лексических концептов и когнитивных моделей (ЛККМ)

В данной статье рассматриваются два типа полисемии, не получивших достаточного внимания в когнитивно-лингвистической традиции. В рамках этой традиции полисемия часто рассматривается как функция вокабул в семантической памяти: словам соответствуют отдельные, пусть и взаимосвязанные, лексические входы, и в результате в языковом употреблении возникает полисемия. Я полагаю, что полисемия может возникать на основе экстралингвистических знаний, доступ к которым обеспечивают слова. Это явление, именуемое в данной работе концептуальной полисемией, показано на примере лексической единицы book ‘книга’. Кроме того, полисемия может возникать на основе различных слов, имеющих сходное семантическое представление. Это явление межсловной полисемии демонстрируется на примере подробного разбора предложных форм in ‘в’ и on ‘на’. Анализ производится с опорой на теорию лексических концептов и когнитивных моделей (ЛККМ).

A Unified Account of Polysemy within LCCM Theory. January, 2015, Lingua. [PDF File]

Within the cognitive linguistics tradition, polysemy has often been viewed as a function of underlying entries in semantic memory: word forms have distinct, albeit related, lexical entries, which thereby give rise to polysemous word senses in language use (e.g., Evans 2004; Tyler and Evans 2001, 2003).  In this paper, I seek to broaden out the study of polysemy within this tradition by tackling it from three slightly different angles.  I argue that polysemy can also arise from the non-linguistic knowledge to which words facilitate access.  This phenomenon I refer to as conceptual polysemy.  I illustrate this with an analysis of the lexical item book.  Moreover, polysemy also arises from distinct, albeit related, conventionalised sense-units associated with the same linguistic form: the phenomenon I refer to as lexical polysemy. I illustrate with an analysis of the polysemy exhibited by the form in. And finally, semantic relatedness can be discerned as arising from different word forms which, at least on first blush, appear to share a common semantic representation.  This phenomenon I refer to as inter-lexical polysemy.  I illustrate with a case study involving an analysis of the prepositional forms in and on.  In presenting my account of these three types of polysemous phenomena, I introduce a contemporary account of lexical representation: the Theory of Lexical Concepts and Cognitive Models, or LCCM Theory for short (Evans 2006, 2009, 2010b, 2013).  This provides a common theoretical architecture which facilitates a joined-up account of these specific phenomena, and of polysemy more generally.  Finally, the paper introduces a new construct within the theory—the notion of a meaning spectrum—which facilitates analysis of aspects of lexical and inter-lexical polysemy.

What's in a concept? Analog versus parametric concepts in LCCM Theory. 2015. The Conceptual Mind: New Directions in the Study of Concepts, pp. 251-290. Ed. by Eric Margolis and Stephen Laurence. MIT Press. [PDF File]

Any account of language and the human mind has to grapple, ultimately, with the nature of concepts, the subject of this chapter.  In the words of cognitive scientist Jesse Prinz (2002: 1), concepts are “the basic timber of our mental lives.”  For without concepts that could be no thought, and language would have nothing to express.  What is less clear, however, is exactly how concepts are constituted, and the relationship between language and concepts.  These are the two issues I address in this chapter.  I address these issues by posing and attempting to answer the following question:  do linguistic units (e.g., words) have semantic content independently of the human conceptual system.  The answer to this question is, I will argue, a clear yes. 

Metaphor, lexical concepts and figurative meaning construction. 2013, Cognitive Semiotics. [PDF File]

This paper addresses the status and significance of conceptual metaphor as an explanatory theoretical construct in giving rise to figurative language (e.g., Lakoff 2008; Lakoff and Johnson 1999), I argue that conceptual metaphor is but one component, albeit a significant one, in figurative meaning construction.  I contend that while conceptual metaphors inhere in the conceptual system, there is a class of metaphors—discourse metaphors—which emerge and evolve in and through language use, and inhere in the linguistic system.  Indeed, the semantic units associated with discourse metaphors, and other linguistic expressions I refer to as lexical concepts.  I also introduce LCCM Theory (Evans 2009, 2010), and suggest that lexical concepts provide access to non-linguistic knowledge representations, cognitive models, which can be structured in terms of conceptual metaphors. 

On the nature of lexical concepts.
Published 2010 in Belgrade Journal of English Linguistics and Literature Studies (BELLS). [PDF File]

This paper addresses the nature of lexical concepts, a theoretical construct in LCCM Theory (Evans 2006, 2009). It provides an overview of the main properties and characteristics of lexical concepts. It also provides a methodology for identifying and so distinguishing between lexical concepts. The latter is important when dealing with cases, such as polysemy, where a related form is paired with distinct lexical concepts.

Figurative language understanding in LCCM Theory. 2010. Cognitive Linguistics 21-4: 601-662. [PDF File]

This paper presents a theoretical account of figurative language understanding, examining metaphor and metonymy in particular.  The account is situated within the Theory of Lexical Concepts and Cognitive Models (LCCM Theory).  It is argued that an account of figurative language understanding from this perspective complements the ‘backstage cognition’ perspectives of Conceptual Metaphor Theory and Conceptual Blending Theory. 

From the spatial to the non-spatial: The ‘state’ lexical concepts of in, on and at.  2010. In V. Evans & P. Chilton (eds.).  Language, Cognition & Space.  Published by Equinox.  [PDF file]


This paper is concerned with modelling the lexical representation of spatial relations, particularly as encoded by English prepositions, and examining how these spatial relations give rise to non-spatial meanings.  In particular, the paper develops an LCCM Theory account of the ‘state’ lexical concepts for the prepositional forms in, on, and at.  The paper shows how this treatment builds upon and revises the earlier Principled Polysemy account of spatial semantics.

Semantic representation in LCCM Theory.  2009. In New Directions in Cognitive Linguistics, edited by V. Evans and S. Pourcel.  Published by John Benjamins.  [PDF File]

This paper focuses on the nature of semantic representation from the perspective of LCCM Theory.  It distinguishes between the nature and function of the conceptual and linguistic systems, before discussing the nature of representations in each, and their interaction.  It concludes by discussing implications for meaning-construction.


Semantic structure versus conceptual structure: The nature of lexical concepts in a simulation-based account of language understanding. 2009. Unpublished technical report. [PDF File].


Towards a Cognitive Compositional Semantics: An Overview of LCCM Theory.  2007.  In Further Insights into Semantics and Lexicography, edited by Ulf Magnusson, Henryk Kardela and Adam Glaz.  pp. 11-42.  Lublin, Poland: Wydawnictwo UMCS.  [PDF File]


In this paper I am concerned with the nature of word ‘meaning’ and their semantic contribution in combination.  I argue that the semantic values associated with words are flexible, open-ended and highly dependent on the utterance context in which they are embedded.  In attempting to provide an account of meaning-construction that coheres with this fact, I present a cognitively-realistic theory of lexical representation and a programmatic theory of lexical concept integration: the Theory of Lexical Concepts and Cognitive Models (LCCM Theory).


Lexical Concepts, Cognitive Models and Meaning-Construction.  2006.  Cognitive Linguistics 17/4, 491-534    [PDF File].  

This paper provides a new approach to meaning-construction.   The fundamental claim is that there is a basic distinction between lexical concepts, and meaning.  While lexical concepts constitute the semantic units conventionally associated with linguistic forms, and form an integral part of a language user’s individual mental grammar, meaning is a property of situated usage-events, rather than words.  The paper presents an account of lexical concepts and the conceptual knowledge structures, cognitive models, with respect to which they are relativised.  A theory of lexical concept integration is then developed, which serves to provide an account of how lexical concepts are combined in service of situated meaning-construction.


Review of Cognitive Linguistics. 2012. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science. Ed. by Lyn Nadel. [PDF File]

This review article provides an overview of the primary commitments of Cognitive Linguistics, its central assumptions and worldview. It also contrasts Cognitive Linguistics with formalist approaches to language, especially Generative Grammar and Formal Semantics.

Annotated Bibliography: Cognitive Linguistics. 2011. Oxford Online Bibliography Series, ed. by Mark Aronoff. [PDF File]

This is an annotated bibliography covering the major foci of concern within Cognitive Linguistics. Topics covered include: foundational works, textbooks, glossaries, reference resources, bibliographies, edited collections, journals and the major theories.

Low carbon diet: Reducing the Complexities of Climate Change to Human Scale. (With Brigitte Nerlich and Nelya Koteyko).Language & Cognition 3: 1 (2011). [PDF File]

This paper combines metaphor and blending analysis with media and discourse analysis to shed light on the linguistic framing of a real-world problem: climate change. The paper examines the ways in which the use of language, and in particular, the novel compound, 'low carbon diet' reduces climate change to human scale. This is achieved by studying the development of the 'low carbon diet' blend in an advertising campaign, a book, and by a catering company in the United States.

Language and Cognition: The View from Cognitive Linguistics. Published 2011 in Language & Bilingual Cognition, ed. By V. Cook & B. Bassetti, by Taylor Francis. [PDF]

The main purpose of this chapter is to survey the theoretical position and main findings of Cognitive Linguistics as it bears on the relationship between language and cognition for researchers from other disciplines who are working on, or considering working on, bilingual cognition.

The Cognitive Linguistics Enterprise : An Overview.  (With Benjamin K. Bergen and Jörg Zinken). 2007. In The Cognitive Linguistics Reader, ed. by V. Evans, B. Bergen and J. Zinken. London: Equinox.  [PDF File]. 

This review article provides an overview of the fundamental theoretical commitments and guiding principles of the Cognitive Linguistics enterprise, and its two best developed areas of study: cognitive semantics, and cognitive approaches to grammar.  It also critically reviews the main theoretical approaches and frameworks within Cognitive Linguistics.


Time. 2015. Cognitive Linguistics Handbook. Ed. by Ewa Dabowska and Dagmar Divjak. Mouton de Gruyter. [PDF File]

Cognitive Linguistics. 2015. Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Science. Oxford University Press. [PDF File]

Word Meaning.  2010.  Published in The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the Language Sciences, edited by Patrick Colm Hogan.  [PDF File].

This encyclopaedia entry provides an introduction to some of the central concerns relating to both the nature and study of word meaning, including cognitive linguistic approaches.

Cognitive Linguistics.  2009. In The Encyclopedia of Pragmatics, ed. by L. Cummings.  Published by Routledge.  [PDF File]

The encyclopaedia entry provides an overview of cognitive linguistics as it bears on issues relevant to the study of pragmatics.

The Evolution of Semantics.  2005. Elsevier Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, 2nd edition, ed. K. Brown.  [PDF File]

This article is concerned with the evolution of semantic knowledge.  Semantic knowledge relates to the linguistic ability to encode and externalise humanly-relevant concepts, and combinations of concepts.  This article explores the evolution of knowledge of this kind from two perspectives.  The first examines possible cognitive pre-adaptations for the emergence of semantic knowledge.  These include the evolution of voluntary motor control, the evolution of intention-reading abilities and the relationship between personality traits and language.  The second examines the nature and range of semantic structure, and the kinds of conceptual mechanisms which underpin this knowledge and their possible evolutionary basis.  


The top trumps of time: Factors motivating the resolution of temporal ambiguity. (With Sarah Duffy). Published 2016 in Language & Cognition. [PDF File]

Temporal frames of reference.
2013. Cognitive Linguistics, 24/3:393-435.
[PDF File].

This paper develops a taxonomy of temporal frames of reference (t-FoRs), providing arguments to support my claim that they have psychological reality.  The arguments are based on a review of findings from neuroscience and experimental psychology, as well as an original analysis of the linguistic manifestations of t-FoRs in English.  I propose three kinds of t-FoRs: deictic, sequential and extrinsic. 

Simulation Semantics and the Linguistics of Time – A Response to Zwaan.  2008. In P. Indefrey & M. Gullberg (eds.). The cognitive and neural prerequisites of time in language.  Language Learning 58:Suppl. 1, pp. 27–33.  [PDF File]

In this short commentary, I respond to the simulation semantics agenda as presented by Zwaan.  My overall point is that before we can speculate on the relationship between the role of visuo-motoric simulations (sensory-motor resonances) in language understanding in the domain of time, we must first get some basic issues straight with respect to i) language, ii) the relationship between language and temporality, and iii) the role of language in meaning construction. 

The Meaning of Time: Polysemy, the Lexicon and Conceptual Structure.  2005. Journal of Linguistics, 41.1, 33-75.  [PDF File]

This paper argues that the lexeme time consitutes a lexical category of distinct senses instantiated in the mental lexicon.  Three criteria are provided which serve to distinguish between distinct senses and context-dependent readings.  The view presented is contrasted with other theories of word-meaning, including Pustejovsky (1995) and Lakoff (1987).

How We Conceptualise Time:  Language, Meaning and Temporal Cognition.  2004. Essays in Arts and Sciences, XXXIII, No. 2, pp. 13-44.  Issue Theme: TIME.  Issue editor Mirjana N. Dedaic.  Reprinted in The Cognitive Linguistics Reader (2007).  Edited by V. Evans, B. Bergen and J. Zinken.  London: Equinox. [PDF File]

This paper provides a descriptive overview of the nature of our conceptual representation for time.  This is organised at two levels, the level of 'lexical concepts', which is to say a concept represented by a single word or fixed expression, and the level of 'cognitive models'.  This is a level of organisation in which various lexical concepts are integrated together with their conventional patterns of imagery, termed 'concept elaboration', in order to provide complex, yet coherent representations of time.  Evidence is presented for both levels of organisation.

The Relation Between Experience, Conceptual Structure and Meaning: Non-temporal Uses of Tense and Language Teaching. (With Andrea Tyler). 2001. In M. Puetz, S. Niemeier and R. Dirven (eds.).  Applied Cognitive Linguistics I: Theory and Language Acquisition,  63-108. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.  [PDF File]

Presents a survey of non-temporal meanings of English tense. Proposals are made for the cognitive-pragmatic interaction which has led to time-reference having developed new semantic-pragmatic functions, such as politeness, epistemic stance, etc. Also considers the implication of the analysis for language teaching.


The Perceptual Basis of Spatial Representation.  2010. In V. Evans and P. Chilton (eds.).  Language, Cognition and Space: The State of the Art and New Directions.  Equinox publishing.  [PDF File]

his chapter is concerned with i) the perception of space, and the way in which spatial experience is ‘constructed’ by virtue of our sense-perceptory systems and brain mechanisms, and ii) how spatial experience is ‘redescribed’, giving rise to foundational spatial concepts prior to the emergence of language from around one year onwards.

Spatial Experience, Lexical Structure and Motivation: The Case of In. (With Andrea Tyler). 2004.  In G. Radden and K. Panther. Studies in Linguistic Motivation, pp. 157-192. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter. [PDF File]

This paper takes issue with the received view of lexical structure, which views the lexicon as being the repository of the arbitrary and the idiosyncratic. It is argued that the lexicon is systematically motivated. The traditional view of the lexicon is shown to be inadequate in three ways. These relate to the fact that a word can take on new meanings in novel contexts, that words tend to be polysemous, and that a single word can appear in a range of different lexical classes. A case study of in is presented to illustrate the issues at hand.

Rethinking English "Prepositions of Movement": The Case of To and Through. (With Andrea Tyler).  2004.  In H. Cuyckens, W. de Mulder and T. Mortelmans (eds.), Adpositions of Movement, pp. 247-270.  (Belgian Journal of Linguistics, 18). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. [PDF File]

This paper argues against the view that prepositions designate motion. It is suggested that prepositions such as to and through are associated with spatial properties in addition to a functional element. The functional element arises as a consequence of our daily interaction with the spatial-configuration associated with the particular preposition. The 'movement' reading often associated with these prepositions results from the integration of spatial and functional elements with sentential context.

Reconsidering Prepositional Polysemy Networks: The Case of Over. (With Andrea Tyler). 2001. Language, 77, 4, 724-765.  [PDF File].  Reprinted in B. Nerlich, L. Todd, V. Herman and D.D. Clarke (eds.) 2003. Polysemy: Flexible Patterns of Meaning in Mind and Language, pp. 95-160.  Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. [PDF File]

This article explores lexical polysemy through an in-depth examination of the English preposition over. Working within a cognitive linguistic framework, the present study illustrates the nonarbitrary quality of the mental lexicon and the highly creative nature of the human conceptual system.


Applying Cognitive Linguistics to Pedagogical Grammar: The English Prepositions of Verticality. (With Andrea Tyler). 2005.  Revista Brasileira de Linguistica Aplicada, 5, 2, 11-42[PDF File]

This article considers the merit of applying insights from Cognitive Linguistics to pedagogical grammar.  It does so by examining English prepositions, long assumed to be one of the most difficult areas of acquisition for second language learners. 

Applying Cognitive Linguistics to Pedagogical Grammar:  The Case of Over(With Andrea Tyler).  2004.  In M. Achard and S. Niemeier.  Cognitive Linguistics, Second Language Acquisition, and Foreign Language Teaching, pp. 257-280.  Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. [PDF File]          

This paper describes how insights from the principled polysemy approach to prepositions, developed in Tyler and Evans (2001, 2003) can be applied to language teaching. After illustrating the approach with the preposition over, the paper proceeds to provide details of how this approach to English prepositions might be employed in the foreign language classroom.


Berwick and Chomsky, Why Only Us: Language and Evolution. Review published in New Scientist, February 2016.

Ronald Langacker, Cognitive Grammar: A Basic Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pp 562. Language & Cognition, 1/2 (November 2009). [PDF]

Dirk Geeraerts & Hubert Cuyckens (eds.), The Oxford handbook of Cognitive Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. Pp. xxx + 1334. Journal of Linguistics, 45/2 (June 2009). [PDF]

Sophia S. A.Marmaridou: Pragmatic Meaning and Cognition. Amsterdam/ Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 2000. Pp. 322. Review published in Cognitive Linguistics 13–1 (2002) pp. 116-121. [PDF]


Language and Cognition

Language and Cognition:
An interdisciplinary journal of language and cognitive science



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