On Idioms: Cornerstones for a Neurological Model of Language Processing

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Hillert, Dieter G.

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Institute for Cognitive Science, Seoul National University
Journal of Cognitive Science, Vol.9 No.2, pp. 193-233
Broca’s areafigurative languageidiomslanguage disorderslanguage systemneuroimagingpragmaticssemanticssentence processingsyntax
The examination of the cognitive and neural correlates of idiom
comprehension is an excellent test ground for a neurological model of language
processing. Idioms are hybrid linguistic elements: They carry similar to
metaphors figurative meanings, but employ also alternative parsing strategies.
Here new evidence will be discussed that predicts comprehension of figurative
meanings by means of temporal and spatial parameters. Accordingly, an account
of the human language system is suggested that divides between a left-sided
Core Language System (CLS) and a bilateral Pragmatic Language Network
(PLN). Online comprehension of literal and idiomatic phrases seems to take
place exclusively in the core language system. Moreover, the computational
costs associated with idiom processing seem to be compatible with those costs
related to syntactic ambiguity resolution or to syntactic movements. In contrast,
creative figurative meanings such as metaphors may be primarily a domain of
the bilateral pragmatic language network. Several conclusions will be drawn
about the cognitive and neural correlates of language processing.
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College of Humanities (인문대학)Institute for Cognitive Science (인지과학연구소)Journal of Cognitive Science (인지과학작업)Journal of Cognitive Science (인지과학작업) vol.09 (2008)
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