Cognitive Linguistics – Purpose and Scope

Written by Louvenia on . Posted in Linguistics

The study of science behind the human languages is called linguistics. It involves the analysis of where the language originated from, what was the need, how it evolved with time, recent developments and future possibilities. The creation of a perfectly defined language by which we can communicate to one another is one of the most relevant reasons to separate us from rest of the members in the animal kingdom. The importance of language is not hidden from anybody and hence linguistics is a very important field of study.


Cognitive sciences, on the other hand, deal basically with studying any process or event from mental perspective i.e. it believes all the activities or happenings around us is the result of some phenomena going on in the brain and the analysis of that detail and other details is what we study in cognitive sciences. Now where does linguistics come under the scanner of cognitive science?


Linguistics has been taken up as a field of research in cognitive science, as the evolution of language and its continuous development is because of some processes taking place in mind. For example thinking to speak or communicate, taking initiative to talk, finding some tools or objects to communicate etc all are related to cognition i.e. related to mind and its various processes. Linguistics and cognitive sciences is an important branch of science and it has led to various discoveries regarding the language development. How is the accent of any language or the body of its words are generated and what it takes for any mind to adapt to it.

The study of languages is not easy, and even more complex is the process of language learning. A new born baby starts to learn basic words few weeks after birth and masters basic form of it in few years without any training just by listening. Generally all of us are able to adopt and use a language proficiently under normal circumstances. Have you ever wondered why it is simple to learn the first language as a baby than to learn a new language when we become adult or what is the limit to which any language can be learned and understood by us? All such questions can be answered by cognitive studies of the languages.


Actually linguistics is a scientific study of any language dealing with phonetics, pronunciation, listening, and other similar scientific aspects whereas cognitive linguistics is the study of what process is going in the mind when someone is speaking, listening or just using any language. We can say that linguistics differs from language to language but cognitive science can be the same for different languages. Linguistics is a generative and module based study of any language e.g. it is concerned only about correct usage, rules, grammar etc. but on the other hand, cognitive science of language deals with the concept lying behind any language.


Cognitive linguistics tries to figure out how a human brain is able to listen, learn, memorize and reproduce any language. It does not believe that there is a part in the brain which handles all the language related functions. The main reason behind this approach is that during using a language we can listen, speak, write and all these functions are governed by different parts of the brain so how can we say that language is dealt by one specific section.


One more important aspect of cognitive linguistics is that it also examines the genetic factors which affect the acquisition and usage of a language. Sometimes you may observe that some child is unable to speak properly or unable to adopt the language but his parents don’t have any such problem, what could be the possible factor behind this failure. The question is something which cannot be answered by linguistics alone, or it can just state that there might be some problem in that area of brain which handles language related activities but the cognitive science tries to find out that actual reason by analyzing the genetic codes and observing that if something is missing from the child.


At last it can be concluded that linguistics and cognitive sciences both have importance of their own and we can’t say which one is better over the other because they are entirely different in application, but one can positively say that the combined study of these two can reveal some very interesting factors which can deepen our knowledge, understanding, usage and future prospects of a language.