Cognitive-evolutionary theory of language: justification

Keywords: cognitive linguistics, cognitive-evolutionary theory of language, interdisciplinarity, anthropology, thinking, language, culture, perception


This article is devoted to substantiating the cognitive-evolutionary theory of language within the framework of cognitive linguistics. The main principle of cognitive linguistics, “explanation,” serves as the foundation for this theory. It is argued that the need for this theory arises from negative trends in modern cognitive linguistics, such as an excessive focus on studying concepts without a common understanding of the term "concept" and the substitution of the object of cognitive linguistic research with the study of thinking facilitated by language, rather than thinking itself. The article proposes a new theory for cognitive linguistics that aims to explain the mechanism by which the quality of thinking influences the quality of language. Furthermore, it seeks to determine what factors contribute to the quality of thinking and identify the reasons for differences in the development of languages, thinking, and cultures associated with languages. To support this theory, an interdisciplinarity is suggested, which involves incorporating anthropological data from various fields such as philosophy, logic, cognitive psychology, ontopsychology, ethnopsychology, psycholinguistics, neurophysiology, neurolinguistics, ontolinguistics, ethnolinguistics, and primatology. The author argues in favor of the overwhelmingly positive impact of biological and cognitive evolution. While the commonly accepted notion of thinking influencing language lacks complete proof, the article identifies perception as the cognitive structure that ensures the quality of thinking. In line with the idea that the quality of perception affects thinking, which in turn affects language, three degrees of perception are identified: syncretic, superficial, and alternative. Each degree of perception is described alongside linguistic and mental characteristics observed in great apes, children, modern primitive and ancient civilized people, as well as modern civilized people. The article concludes that differences between languages (and cultures) stem from the quality of perception regarding their developmental possibilities. As a result, the cognitive-evolutionary algorithm “perception: syncretic, superficial, or alternative → corresponding logic of thinking → corresponding logic of language (corresponding logic of culture)” is proposed.


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How to Cite
Popov, S. (2023). Cognitive-evolutionary theory of language: justification. Cognition, Communication, Discourse, (26), 123-139.