Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Appears in Collections:Literature and Languages Book Chapters and Sections
Title: The pivotal role of metaphor in the evolution of human language
Authors: Smith, Andrew D M
Höfler, Stefan
Contact Email:
Editors: Díaz-Vera, JE
Citation: Smith ADM & Höfler S (2015) The pivotal role of metaphor in the evolution of human language. In: Díaz-Vera JE (ed.). Metaphor and Metonymy Across Time and Cultures: perspectives on the sociohistorical linguistics of figurative language. Cognitive Linguitics Research, 52, Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, pp. 123-140.
Keywords: evolutionary linguistics
cognitive linguistics
ostensive-inferential communication
evolution of symbolism
evolution of grammar
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Walter de Gruyter
Series/Report no.: Cognitive Linguitics Research, 52
Abstract: There is broad agreement among evolutionary linguists that the emergence of human language, as opposed to other primate communication systems, is characterised by two key phenomena: the use of symbols, and the use of grammatical structure (Tomasello 2003). In this paper, we show that these two defining aspects of language actually emerge from the same set of underlying cognitive mechanisms within the context of ostensive-inferential communication. We take an avowedly cognitive approach to the role of metaphor in language change, setting out how general capacities such as the recognition of common ground, the inference of meaning from context, and the memorisation of language usage, can together lead to the conventionalisation of metaphors, and thence to systematic changes in language structure, including the development of grammatical linguistic units from formerly meaningful elements through grammaticalisation (Hoefler and Smith 2009). We show that the relevant cognitive competences are general-purpose mechanisms which are crucially not specific to language; they also underpin non-linguistic communication, where the same processes lead to the emergence of apparently arbitrary symbols.
Rights: This item has been embargoed for a period. During the embargo please use the Request a Copy feature at the foot of the Repository record to request a copy directly from the author. You can only request a copy if you wish to use this work for your own research or private study. The publisher has granted permission for use of this work in this Repository. Published in JE Diaz-Vera (ed.) Metaphor and Metonymy across Time and Cultures: Perspectives on the Sociohistorical Linguistics of Figurative Language by De Gruyter Mouton:
Type: Part of book or chapter of book
Affiliation: English Studies
University of Zurich

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
2015_The pivotal role of metaphor in the evolution of human language.pdf2.6 MBAdobe PDFView/Open

This item is protected by original copyright

Items in the Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.

If you believe that any material held in STORRE infringes copyright, please contact providing details and we will remove the Work from public display in STORRE and investigate your claim.