Toward a Theory of Cultural Linguistics

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Imagery, broadly defined as all that people may construe in cognitive models pertaining to vision, hearing, touch, taste, smell, and feeling states, precedes and shapes human language. In this pathfinding book, Gary B. Palmer restores imagery to a central place in studies of language and culture by bringing together the insights of cognitive linguistics and anthropology to form a new theory of cultural linguistics. Palmer begins by showing how cognitive grammar complements the traditional anthropological approaches of Boasian linguistics, ethnosemantics, and the ethnography of speaking. He then applies his cultural theory to a wealth of case studies, including Bedouin lamentations, spatial organization in Coeur d'Alene place names and anatomical terms, Kuna narrative sequence, honorifics in Japanese sales language, the domain of ancestral spirits in Proto-Bantu noun-classifiers, Chinese counterfactuals, the non-arbitrariness of Spanish verb forms, and perspective schemas in English discourse. This pioneering approach suggests innovative solutions to old problems in anthropology and new directions for research. It will be important reading for everyone interested in anthropology, linguistics, cognitive science, and philosophy.