Year of publication
- A functional view on prototypes (1989)
- The human mind may produce prototypization within virtually any realm of cognition and behavior. A "comparative prototype-typology" might prove to be an interesting field of study – perhaps a new subfield of semiotics. This, however, would presuppose a clear view on the samenesses and differences of prototypization in these various fields. It seems realistic for the time being that the linguist first confine himself to describing prototypization within the realm of language proper. The literature on prototypes has steadily grown in the past ten years or so. I confine myself to mentioning the volume on Noun Classes and Categorization, edited by C. Craig (1986), which contains a wealth of factual information on the subject, along with some theoretical vistas. By and large, however, linguistic prototype research is still basically in a taxonomic stage - which, of course, represents the precondition for moving beyond. The procedure is largely per ostensionem, and by accumulating examples of prototypes. We still lack a comprehensive prototype theory. The following pages are intended, not to provide such, a theory, but to do the first steps in this direction. Section 2 will feature some elements of a functional theory of prototypes. They have been developed by this author within the frame of the UNITYP model of research on language universals and typology. Section 3 will bring a discussion of prototypization with regard to selected phenomena of a wide range of levels of analysis: Phonology, morphosyntax, speech acts, and the lexicon. Prototypization will finally be studied within one of the universal dimensions, that of APPREHENSION - the linguistic representation of the concepts of objects – as proposed by Seiler (1986).
- The dimension of oppositeness : universal and typological aspects (1991)
- Oppositeness, i.e. the relation between opposites or contraries or contradictories, has a fundamental role in human cognition. In the various domains of intellectual and psychological activity we find ordering schemas that are based, in one way or another, on the cognitive figure of oppositeness. It is therefore not surprising that the figure and its corresponding ordering schemas show their reflexes in the languages of the world. [...] We shall be dealing with oppositeness in the sense that a linguistically untrained native speaker, when asked what would be the opposite of 'long' can come up with some such answer as 'short', and likewise intuitively grasp the relation between 'man' and 'woman', 'corne' and 'go', 'up' and 'down', etc. Thinking that much of the vocabulary of a language is organized in such opposite pairs we must recognize that this is an important faculty, and we are curious to know how this is done, what are the underlying conceptual-cognitive structures and processes, and how they are encoded in the languages of the world. We shall leave out of consideration such oppositions as singular vs. plural. present vs. past, voiced vs. unvoiced, oppositions that the linguist states by means of a metalanguage which is itself derived from a concept of oppositeness as manifested by the examples which I gave earlier. Our approach will connect with earlier versions of the UNITYP framework. However, as a novel feature, and, hopefully, as an improvement, we shall apply some sort of a division of labor. We shall first try to reconstruct the conceptual-cognitive content of oppositeness and to keep it separate from the discussion of its reflexes in the individual languages. We shall find that a dimensional ordering of content in PARAMETERS and a continuum of TECHNIQUES is possible already on the conceptual-cognitive level. In order to keep it distinct from the level of linguistic encoding we shall use a separate terminology, graphically marked by capital 1etters.
- L'Iconicité en perspective fonctionnelle : contribution au Colloque Internat. "Présence de Saussure", Genève, 22 mars 1988 (1988)
- Le but principal de notre essai est de poser des problèmes. En résumé de ce qui a été proposé jusqu'ici, ces problemes peuvent être formulés comme suit : 1. Comment le principe de l'iconicité intervient-il dans la tâche de la représentation de nos conceptualisations par les moyens de la langue ? 2. Quelle est la place de l'iconicité dans le cadre d'un modele dimensionnel qui réunit les trois modes de représentation que Peirce a dénommés "icon", "index", "symbol" ? 3. Quelle est 1a fonction de l'iconicité et quels sont les facteurs qui font alterner l'iconicité prédominante avec la prédominance de chacun des deux autres modes de représentation ? Certes, ces problèmes sont de portée très générale et de solution difficile. Il ne peut s'agir ici de donner des solutions définitives, mais plutôt de montrer la direction vers où s'orienter.