Cultural cognitive models of language variation

Augusto Soares da Silva*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


We think about social reality in terms of cultural cognitive models and, consequently, we use these models to categorize and attitudinally evaluate language variation and to produce language policies and language ideologies. Leaning on Geeraerts's (2003) seminal paper on competing rationalist and romantic models of linguistic standardization, we analyze the cultural cognitive models underlying attitudes towards the two national varieties of Portuguese, namely European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese, as well as the language policy debates about the unity/diversity o f Portuguese. Analyzing a corpus o f press, political, didactic and scientific texts on Portuguese language policy, linguistic standardization, spelling agreement and Lusophony, four attitudes towards Portuguese as a pluricentric language are identified, namely romantic versus rationalist unifying (converging) attitudes and romantic versus rationalist dividing (diverging) attitudes. The most radically convergent and divergent attitudes found in the corpus a re typically romantic. Moreover, romantic a ttitudes appear to be more frequent and more explicit in Brazil than in Portugal. A critical discussion of the ideologies inherent in the romantic and rationalist models of Portuguese variation is provided. In line with some studies focusing on the role of metaphoric and metonymic conceptualizations of language in language policy debates (Berthele 2008; Polzenhagen and Dirven 2008), we also relate the key arguments made in the debates on the unity/diversity o f Portuguese to conceptual metaphors and metonymies for language, such as the metaphors LANGUAGE IS A TOOL and LANGUAGE IS AN IDENTITY MARKER. Although these metaphors are typically related to the rationalist and romantic models, respectively, the same metaphor can contribute to the opposing cultural models and ideologies. In this way, prototypes, paradoxes and blends of the romantic and rationalist models of Portuguese unity/diversity are identified. Prototypical patterns are the rationalist ideology of promoting the superior unity of Portuguese in the current transcontinental global context and its economic and political benefits, and the romantic ideology of claiming the Brazilian language as.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChange of paradigms - new paradoxes
Subtitle of host publicationrecontextualizing language and linguistics
PublisherDe Gruyter
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9783110435597
ISBN (Print)9783110441345
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2015


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