The Ninth International Forum on Cognitive Linguistics:Ecological and Distributed Perspectives on Language and Cognition

发布时间:2017-08-09 11:29:49     作者:    浏览次数: 次

The Ninth International Forum on Cognitive Linguistics


Ecological and Distributed Perspectives on Language and Cognition

A lecture series held at Southwest University, Chongqing, China



Lecturer: Professor Sune Vork Steffensen

Time: August 23-25, 2017

Location: College of International Studies, Southwest University, Chongqing, China(西南大学外国语学院)



Linguistics and cognitive science have a long and intertwined history of co-existence, arguably as long as cognitive science itself. While Chomsky brought the cognitive question to the fore on the linguistic agenda, it was the generation of cognitive linguists – Lakoff, Langacker, Talmy, etc. – that developed a full-fledged research program for studying linguistic phenomena based on cognitive principles. However, both the Chomskyan and the cognitive approach based their approach on the assumption that the phenomenon to be explained was the individual speaker’s knowledge of how to pair meaning with sound. Whether in the Chomskyan/computationalist guise or in the more embodied counterpart, both programs were, and are, mentalistic, individualistic, and isolationistic.


In this lecture series, a radical alternative to these assumptions, and hence to generative and cognitive linguistics, will be presented. The perspective pursued is an ecological and distributed one. Rather than zooming in on language as a pre-given phenomenon to be examined, an ecological-distributed perspective takes a starting point in the ecological being and co-being of human beings. It does so by tracing language to the cognitive dynamics of living agents navigating specific ecological niches. On such a view, language and cognition cannot be localized to single agents (or their brains), but they are distributed over neural, bodily, and worldly structures. Hence, tracing language to cognition as a “within property” is replaced with a study of linguistic cognition as an “in-between process” (paraphrasing Lambros Malafouris).


Following the Chomskyan and the cognitive predecessors in the cognitive study of language, the distributed-ecological perspective is a 3rdwave that aspires to change the agenda for the language sciences. This lecture series introduces the perspective, partly by tracing its emergence in cognitive science, partly to outline its implication for linguistics. It introduces to the basic assumptions on human cognition as an ecological phenomenon and to the implications for such views in linguistics. Further, it discusses the theoretical and methodological implications of such 3rd wave perspective, partly by presenting an interactivity-based approach to cognition (“Cognitive Event Analysis”), partly by outlining the implications for ecological linguistics (ecolinguistics).



·         {C}23August, morning (9:00-11:00):

The great divide: ecological and distributed perspectives on language and cognition


·         {C}23August, afternoon (3:00-5:00):

The language sciences at a crossroad: revisiting objects, questions, and theories


·         {C}24 August, morning (9:00-11:00):

Interactivity and cognitive events: from perspectives to empirical knowledge


·         {C}24 August, afternoon (3:00-5:00):

Ecolinguistics and the extended ecology of languaging


·         {C}25 August, morning (9:00-11:00):

Questions & Answers – and new question


NB! The Q&A session on 25 August is based on readings of Sune Vork Steffensen’s work (see: In a series of short presentations, interested scholars present their readings of specific texts, discuss/criticize specific ideas based on this reading, and engages in a constructive, way-finding dialogue with the author. Professor Wen Xu moderates and organizes the session. Interested scholars can contact Wen Xu on:



Biographical note

Sune Vork Steffensen is Associate Professor of Interpersonal Communication and Cognition at the University of Southern Denmark. Having written a PhD in linguistics at University of Aarhus, he took up his current position at the University of Southern Denmark in 2008. In 2012, he was the founding director of the Centre for Human Interactivity, which investigates how language, social organization, and cognition intersect in complex social and dialogical systems. His research interests include: interaction and interactivity; ecological, dialogical and distributed approaches to language and interaction; the functioning of cognitive ecosystems. He has pioneered the so-called Cognitive Event Analysis, a qualitative method for studying behavioural and sense-making processes in human ecosystems. He has co-edited volumes on dialectical ecolinguistics (Continuum, 2007), biosemiotics and health interaction (Braga University Press, 2010), the distributed dynamics of language (Language Sciences, 2012), and ecolinguistics (Language Sciences, 2014). Since July 2015, he has been acting as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Language Sciences.