Наслеђе 48 (2021), стр. 167-183

АУТОР(И): Mihailo P. Antović


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DOI: 10.46793/NasKg2148.167A


The paper illustrates how the author’s emerging theory of “multi-level grounding” may be applied to some contrastive phenomena in English and Serbian. The theory argues that classic semantic approaches based on cross-space interaction may profit enormously from a more thorough consideration of contextual constraints on meaning generation. For example, to understand even a fairly simple comparison such as “Achilles is a lion”, one needs to know a lot more than just how to, depending on the paradigm of choice, “cross-domain map”, “blend”, or “analogize” appropriate formal elements of the two concepts understood as mere mental representations. Rather, to be meaningful in more than just an academic sense, the interpretation needs to call layers of context, from the very general knowledge of who Achilles is and what lions are to specific cultural and even personal connotations appropriate to the two agents and their interaction. In relation to the earlier work of Searle and Langacker, cognitive linguists Coulson and Oakley propose to allocate such knowledge to the construct of the “grounding box” (containing implicit information on the agents, forum, and circumstances surrounding the utterance). The author’s theory makes this concept more refined, suggesting a series of at least six hierarchical and partly recursive grounding boxes constraining meaning generation – from the perceptual attributes of objects cognized to such percepts’ cross-modal interaction with the interlocutors’ embodied experience, to their affective, conceptual, and discourse-driven (re) interpretations. The analysis in this paper aims to show how this approach may be instrumental in disentangling the (seemingly) shared and different semantic strategies in the way English and Serbian treat a simple stock expression (“You are right” / “U pravu si”), grammatical construction (“tolerant of” / “tolerantan prema”), and widely used idiom (“a finger in every pie” / “u svakoj čorbi mirođija”).



English, Serbian, multilevel grounding, semantics, cognition


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