Abstract and Keywords

The object of the polemics is constituted by a cluster of trends in formalist, especially Chomskyan linguistics, trends which may conveniently be brought under the heading “autonomous linguistics.” A recurring theme has been that cognitive linguistics differentiates itself from “autonomous linguistics” in virtue of its claim that language is embedded in more general cognitive abilities. The rejection of autonomy often takes the form of more specific claims, for example, that syntactic (and morphological) patterning is inherently meaningful, that syntax, morphology, and lexicon form a continuum, and that semantics is inherently encyclopedic in scope. The cognitive linguistics enterprise offers a distinct perspective on language acquisition. This article explores the terms of the polemics which have been so prominent in much cognitive linguistics work. It also reviews some of the theoretical and methodological issues which characterize autonomous linguistics and looks at some recent developments in autonomous linguistics, which testify to a certain degree of convergence on positions characteristic of cognitive linguistics. Finally, the article addresses the extent to which autonomy is relevant to the polemics between cognitive and generative linguistics.

Keywords: cognitive linguistics, autonomous linguistics, autonomy, lexicon, morphology, syntax, semantics, polemics, language acquisition, generative linguistics

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