Universalism and Relativism in the Light of Modern Ideas of Cognitive Linguistics

←2017. – Vol.11

Pysmenna J.

PhD., assistant professor

Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv



The article deals with modern views on universalism and relativism as modes of theoretical understanding of language and its place in the general structure of cognition. The opposition of universal and relative in linguistics is associated with the formulation of the hypothesis of the linguistic relativity of Sapir-Whorf. A critical review of universalistic linguistic trends generativism and modern biolinguistics is being held, current approaches in the field of linguistic typology and linguistics of universals are being examined through the prism of the ideas of cognitive linguistics. Neo-relativism as a modern stage of development of the views on linguistic relativity is being discussed. The modern interpretation of cognition as a complex multi-vector process, immersed in the material world and culture, which is characterized by distribution and expansion, is being analyzed. It is concluded that the outlined approaches and the results of experimental studies partially remove the theoretical contradictions of the universalistic and relativistic views on the nature of language and open up the prospect of constructing an integral semantic theory. Modern cognitive principles of language research stimulate the evolutionary development of universalism and neorelativism, integrating them within the interdisciplinary problem of human cognition and the definition of the role of language in it.

Key words: universalism, relativism, cognitive linguistics, linguistic typology, SapirWorf hypothesis.


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