Blog post written Elisabeth Zima based on a new issue of the journal Language and Cognition
Usage-based theories hold that the sole resource for language users’ linguistic systems is language use. It is a well-established fact that the primary setting for language use is interaction, with spontaneous face-to-face interaction playing a primordial role. Although researchers working in the usage-based paradigm, which is often equated with cognitive-functional linguistics, seem to widely agree on this, the overwhelming majority of the literature in Cognitive Linguistics does not deal with the analysis of dialogic data or with issues of interactional conceptualization. One may find that this is at odds with the interactional foundation of the usage-based postulate.
The papers in this special issue of Language & Cognition argue that models of language which subscribe to the usage-based view should not only be fully compatible with evidence from communication research but they should be intrinsically grounded in authentic, multi-party language use in all its diversity and complexities. Therefore, they all involve the analysis of interactional discourse phenomena by drawing on tools and methods from the broad field of Cognitive Linguistics. They show that perspectives on interactional language use that are inspired by Cognitive Linguistics may provide insights that other, non-cognitive approaches to discourse and interaction are bound to overlook. Furthermore, the papers illustrate why an ‘interactional turn’ in Cognitive Linguistics is essential to its credibility and further development as a theory of language and cognition. Contributions come from Alan Cienki, Andreas Langlotz, Kerstin Fischer, Bert Oben, Geert Brône and Elisabeth Zima.