‘I see less of the surroundings. The story feels different’: Construal and Second Language Learning

  • Jeannette Littlemore


We saw in Chapter 1 that a key claim in cognitive linguistics is that the words we use to talk about a particular phenomenon can never reflect a purely objective view of that phenomenon, because pure objectivity does not exist. In this way, language reflects general cognition. When we observe a particular scene or event, we always observe it from a particular perspective. Some aspects of the scene will be more noticeable than others, either because of the position from which we are viewing it, or because we are perhaps more interested in those aspects. Language also provides different ways of directing attention to certain aspects of the thing that we are talking about, and reflects different viewpoints. In cognitive linguistics, this phenomenon is referred to as construal. The most salient aspect of the scene is referred to as the figure, and the rest of the scene is referred to as the ground. Construal is defined by Evans and Green (2006: 536) as:

the way a speaker chooses to ‘package’ and ‘present’ a conceptual representation, which in turn has consequences for the conceptual representation that the utterance evokes in the mind of the hearer.


Language Learner Target Language Semantic Space Construal System Construal Pattern 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Jeannette Littlemore 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeannette Littlemore
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BirminghamUK

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