Evidence for Frames from Human Language

  • Sebastian LöbnerEmail author
Part of the Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy book series (SLAP, volume 94)


The point of departure of this paper is the hypothesis that there is a general format common to all representations in the human cognitive system. There is evidence from cognitive psychology that this might be frames in the sense of Barsalou’s. The aim of the paper is an exploration of the consequences of this assumption for natural language. Does natural language provide evidence in favor of Barsalou frames being the general format of representations in human cognition? The paper discusses two levels of representation of linguistic gestures: syntactic structure and meaning. The first part deals with syntactic structure and compositional meaning. It is argued that specific universal uniqueness constraints on the syntactic and semantic structure of complex linguistic gestures provide positive evidence for the assumption. The second part investigates lexical semantics, in particular the emergence of abstract attribute vocabulary. Observations in this field, too, corroborate the hypothesis.


Frames Cognition Natural language Syntactic structure compositional meaning 



I am very grateful to Robert D. Van Valin Jr., Albert Ortmann, Katina Bontcheva, Anja Latrouite, and Thomas Gamerschlag, for discussion, comments, and hints. I would also like to thank the two reviewers of the paper as well as the audience of the talk which I held at the 2009 International Conference on Concept Types and Frames at Düsseldorf. The research for this article was supported by the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) grant Research Unit RU 600 “Functional Concepts and Frames”.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Linguistics and Information ScienceHeinrich Heine University DüsseldorfDüsseldorfGermany

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