Complexity, variation and meaning: an integrated view on language and cognition

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The complexity of the linguistic system, the variability of meaning and the interindividuality of human cognition are intimately related. By examining language in its effective usage, we cannot help but recognize its great variability and heterogeneity, and one must correlate social variation with conceptual variation. When investigating the variability of meaning, one cannot neglect sociolinguistic variation as one of the factors of this variability, and it becomes inevitable to meet the multidimensionality of meaning in the confluence of its social and conceptual dimensions and in the correlation among perception, action and interaction. Understanding cognition as socioculturally situated makes it inevitable to integrate the social, cultural and interactional aspects in the analysis not only of cognitive capacities in general but also of language. In this study, we attempt to articulate the idea of language as a complex dynamic system with the ascertainment of the intrinsic flexibility of linguistic meaning, which has prototypicality as one of its greater manifestations, and we identify the need for the integration of conceptual and social aspects of language and cognition. We follow the theoretical framework of Cognitive Linguistics, and we argue for the need of advanced multivariate methods that can adequately approach language as a complex dynamic system and a multidimensionality of linguistic meaning.
Translated title of the contributionComplexidade, variação e significado: uma visão integrada sobre linguagem e cognição
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-243
Number of pages34
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2020


  • Complex dynamic system
  • Meaning variation
  • Prototypicality
  • Situated cognition
  • Multivariate methods


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