oa Alternation - Cultural Linguistics and Shona Noun Classifiers

Volume 10, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1023-1757



In the 1960s and 1970s, most linguists and linguistic anthropologists studied grammar as an innately configured, abstract realm having an almost mathematical precision. In the realm of semantics all categories were taxonomic, with category membership based on the possession of certain necessary and sufficient features. This logician's image of grammar and meaning divorced from everyday life encountered a dramatic challenge in 1980, when George Lakoff and Mark Johnson published Metaphors We Live By. Lakoff followed it with Women, Fire and Dangerous Things in 1987, and in the same year Ronald Langacker published Foundations of Cognitive Grammar I. With these landmark publications, the hermetic seal of idealist grammar was broken and the scientific study of semantics began to look outward to general cognitive processes, encounters with the physical world, communication, and culture. A paradigm change was underway. The new semantics was a semantics of life.

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