Language: From Sensory Mapping to Cognitive Construct


  • Bernard H. Bichakjian


This paper places embodiment in an evolutionary perspective and endeavors to show that as incipient speakers began forging a linguistic system, they molded their grammatical distinctions and syntactic functions on their perception of the outside world, but that in the course of evolution, these perceptually-tinkered features were gradually replaced with mental constructs, specifically conceived to serve linguistic purposes and serve them with increased potentiality and greater efficiency. The shift from perceptual to conceptual implements is perhaps most conspicuously visible in writing, where open-ended figurative hieroglyphs were replaced with a small set of abstract letters, but the process is pervasive. In syntax, the phenomenal notion of agency, so deeply anchored in our activities, and the entire grammatical system built thereupon were replaced with a model where agency is irrelevant and syntax is structured on the purely mental constructs of subject and object. The paper continues with further cases of disembodiment.