Research axis n°2: Motivation in grammar and in the lexicon

Area Managers and Contact: Christelle Lacassain and Elise Mignot

Since antiquity, philosophers from Aristotle to Davidson have inextricably linked thought and language. As a cognitive process, language can be defined as the ability to express thought, which can be translated into the use of different signs in several forms (vocal signs, graphic signs, gestures, etc). Here, this transmission of signs is considered as a system of communication that possesses its own syntax and semantics. A typical property of human cognition, language is not isolated from other cognitive mechanisms namely in terms of its lexical and communicational aspects. This research area covers work in linguistics that takes into account these cognitive aspects, namely mental representations not only of the process of making language, but also discourse.

The projects carried out along these lines are represented by different research areas that all have the goal of understanding natural language. Linguists come together to work on topics as diverse as lexical semantics, positional syntax, constituent order, the syntactic profile of lexical units in the same semantic category or the semantic profile of syntactic structures, the relationship among grammatical categories and the conceptualisation of the world, etc. The range of application is also varied: motivation or the arbitrary relationship between meaning and syntactic form; analysing pereceptions and representations, feelings and emotions; the situation of interaction; discourse analysis; stylisitics, etc.

Bringing together parts of different languages, the problems raised by their analysis and the ensuing possible solutions is edifying; it is clear that what exists in one language is often relevant, though hidden, in another.