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Critical Discourse Studies, 2015


Laura Filardo-Llamas, Christopher Hart and Bertie Kaal

In the last decade, a cognitive school has begun to emerge in critical discourse analysis (CDA). Based in cognitive linguistics, this approach sees language as providing a set of
indexical prompts for jointly performing a range of conceptual operations constitutive of
meaning (Hart, 2010). This view of language argues that the semiotic processes involved
in language rely on more general cognitive principles and processes that also function
in domains such as vision, action, memory and reasoning (Croft & Cruse, 2004). One fundamental cognitive ability which seems to be crucial for meaning construction in language is
a capacity for perspective-taking (Levinson, 2003; Talmy, 2000). In the real world, we
necessarily adopt a continually shifting spatial perspective as we negotiate the physical
environment. Equally, we experience perspective in remembering, empathizing and
judging. In understanding discourse, at any moment in the unfolding text, the hearer is
invited to share with the speaker a particular perspective indexed by elements present
or presupposed in the text and dened within a mental model. This perspective is not
restricted to spatial point of view, but includes also points of view conceptualized in
social, temporal, epistemic and deontic space (Croft & Cruse, 2004). Such perspectives
provide an anchorage point in an intersubjective worldview. Other information in the
worldview expressed by the text is organized, evaluated and deliberated over relative to
this deictic point of reference (Chilton, 2004).
Cognitive approaches to language have modelled the worldviews indexed in text
and invoked in the course of discourse in terms of text worlds (Werth, 1999), mental
spaces (Fauconnier, 1994), and, geometrically, in terms of coordinate sets in a threedimensional deictic discourse space (Chilton, 2014). Perspective is dened within these
models as the background, base or the deictic centre. What these models have in
common is that textual information is cognitively represented relative to some starting
point dened as the conceptualizers presumed spatial, social, temporal, epistemic and
deontic ground (cf Hart, 2014; Langacker, 2008).1 An important challenge for linguistics
and discourse analysis, then, is to address how concepts such as distance and focus,
which structure our worldviews, are signied in discourse. Here, certain textual elements
such as deictic adverbs, personal pronouns and modal verbs have already been identied.
However, as the papers included in this special issue demonstrate, the story is certainly
much more complex.
The role of cognitive worlds and points of view in understanding texts has been
studied in branches of discourse analysis such as Stylistics and Poetics (Dancygier,
Sanders, & Vandelanotte, 2012; Dancygier & Sweetser, 2012; Stockwell, 2009). However,

2015 Taylor & Francis


the issue of how language constructs worldviews is perhaps nowhere more important than
in political discourses where the worldviews constructed in discourse may be ideologically
imbued and, through legitimation, can translate into material actions in the real world (Cap,
2013; Chilton, 2004; Hart, 2014).Cognitive accounts of perspective can therefore make an
important contribution to CDA. Each of the papers in this volume addresses at least one
dimension of perspective from within a cognitive linguistic framework to consider its function in constructing ideological worldviews and/or legitimating social or political action.

Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the authors.

1. This may be a manifestation of the ego-centric nature of embodied cognition, which is not to
say that we cannot project our ground or operate in other kinds of coordinate system (cf
Levinson, 2003).

Cap, P. (2013). Proximization. The pragmatics of symbolic distance crossing. Amsterdam: John
Chilton, P. (2004). Analysing political discourse. London: Routledge.
Chilton, P. (2014). Language, space and mind. The conceptual geometry of linguistic meaning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Croft, W., & Cruse, D. A. (2004). Cognitive linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Dancygier, B., & Sweetser, E. (Eds). (2012). Viewpoint in language. A multimodal perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Dancygier, B., Sanders, J., & Vandelanotte, L. (Eds). (2012). Textual choices in discourse. A view from
cognitive linguistics. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Fauconnier, G. (1994). Mental spaces. Aspects of meaning construction in natural language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hart, C. (2010). Critical discourse analysis and cognitive science: New perspectives on immigration
discourse. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Hart, C. (2014). Discourse, grammar and ideology: Functional and cognitive perspectives. London:
Langacker, R. W. (2008). Cognitive grammar: A basic introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Levinson, S. C. (2003). Space in language and cognition: Explorations in cognitive diversity.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Stockwell, P. (2009). Texture: A cognitive aesthetics of reading. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University
Talmy, L. (2000). Toward a cognitive semantics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Werth, P. (1999). Text worlds: Representing conceptual space in discourse. New York: Longman.


Laura Filardo-Llamas (author to whom correspondence should be addressed) is a lecturer
in English at the University of Valladolid, Spain. Her main research area is discourse analysis and conict resolution. Her research has been recently applied to ethno-nationalist
conicts and to domestic violence. She has attended several international conferences,
and she has published in journals such as Ethnopolitics, Peace and Conict Studies,
CADAAD Journal and Critical Discourse Studies. University of Valladolid, Spain. E-mail:

Christopher Hart is a Senior Lecturer in Linguistics at Lancaster University. His research

focusses on the relationship between language, cognition and social and political action.
He is author of Critical discourse analysis and cognitive science: New perspectives on immigration discourse (Palgrave 2010) and Discourse, grammar and ideology: functional and cognitive
perspectives (Bloomsbury 2014). Lancaster University, UK. E-mail:

Bertie Kaal is about to nish her Ph.D. in Political Text Analysis at the VU University Amsterdam, Department of Language and Communication. Her main interest is in discourse
space analysis and rhetorical structures of meaning making in language use for social
action. She is also interested in methods for text analysis and party positioning to
improve public awareness of what parties actually want before people cast their votes
(Kaal et al. (eds), From Text to Political Positions, Benjamins 2014). Department
of Language and Communication, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands. E-mail: