Research Unit for Variation, Contacts and Change in English (VARIENG), University of Helsinki
If this volume was a shoe, which shoe would it be? Probably not a dancing shoe, because it is neither light nor glossy. Probably not a training shoe, because it is not calculated to overcome every potential mountain of objection. But probably not a felt shoe, either. Rather, it could be seen in terms of a gym shoe which is necessary not only for its primary purpose, to go to the gym, but also for training at the gym in order to reach further goals, such as having enough strength to climb a mountain.
Which goals does this volume help to serve, then? Its primary purpose is to publish high-quality linguistic research and to relate this research to current knowledge about human cognition. Singularly, the linguistic articles included in this volume already tell us a lot about human cognition. Together with the second part of the volume, they give us a spring board to jump further into the future.
Many people go to the gym in order to survive the goals of today’s hectic work life. The second article in this volume deals with precisely this topic of survival, the adjectives meaning ‘living, alive’ and ‘dead’ in Swedish (Vogel). The third article deals with terms for ‘consciousness’ in classical Greek (Tuominen), the fourth with the meaning of the noun soul in Shakespeare’s Works (Tissari), and the fifth with metaphors for emotions (Esenova). These articles come in a bundle, because each approaches a word denoting something that is central to human life. Together with the sixth article on the semantics of complex causatives (Brattico), the seventh on the Historical Thesaurus of English (Kay), and the first on the goals of cognitive linguistics (Wildgen), they comprise the first part of the volume, Approaches to Language.
The entire volume originates in a symposium organised by the Finnish Cognitive Linguistics Association FiCLA in 2005, titled “Interdisciplinary Themes in Cognitive Language Research”. After this successful symposium, the FiCLA board decided that some of its members would edit a symposium volume. However, after many difficulties on the road, our first, glossy “dancing shoe” plan had to be rejected, and, eventually, only three of the original contributions remain. Two of these are based on Wolfgang Wildgen’s and Pauli Brattico’s plenaries at the symposium. In addition, Christina M. Krause’s plenary has been replaced by an article by Leinonen and Krause on a somewhat different theme.
It seems fitting that Brattico’s article on complex causatives and Leinonen and Krause’s article on words in brains almost meet at the heart of the volume, at the intersection between Approaches to Language and Approaches to Cognition. The first reason for this fittingness is very concrete: both were members of the organising committee of the symposium and worked at the Cognitive Science Unit of the University of Helsinki where the symposium was held. The second reason is more theoretical: Brattico’s topic is primarily linguistic, and also verges on cognitive science, while Leinonen and Krause’s topic concerns the way linguistic information is stored in the mind.
However, I finally decided to place Kay’s article on the Historical Thesaurus of English between these two articles by members of the organising committee of the original symposium, because it deals with words. This is also Leinonen and Krause’s topic, who look at how words are processed in brains. Kay’s contribution is personally important to me, because she has followed my career as a linguist from its very beginning and has been an excellent role model for another woman in the field.
The last three articles of the volume continue with the theme of cognition, originating in a symposium at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies in 2005, arranged by Tom Campbell, and titled “Modularity of Mind: Philosophy and Neurobiology”. Two of these articles are based on papers given at the symposium. They deal with the localisation of language, and even other things, in the brain (Campbell and Ylikoski). The third one looks back to the FiCLA symposium on Interdisciplinary Themes in cognitive Language Research, where Tom Campbell heard the paper on verbal and nonverbal signs (Sukhova) and found it interesting and relevant to the topic “Modularity of Mind”.
The readers of this volume will, of course, be able to decide for themselves how they use it. In agreement with the rather liberal aims of the FiCLA board in 2005, the papers do not represent a single, ‘right’ way of understanding either language or the mind. Rather, the volume allows each author to have a voice of his or her own.
Finally, I would like to thank all the members of the organising committee of the symposium “Interdisciplinary Themes in Cognitive Language Research” for the first impetus to this volume, all the members of the FiCLA boards in 2005 to 2007 for mental support in editing this volume, the eVarieng series board for accepting the volume into their series, all the anonymous referees, and all the people at Varieng who have helped to finish a long-term project. In particular, I would like to thank Terttu Nevalainen and Anneli Meurman-Solin for their concern in seeing that the project was eventually completed, Tanja Säily and Tuuli Tahko for excellent editorial help, and Jukka Tyrkkö for co-ordinating the series. Last but not least, let me thank all the authors of the articles for their patience.