Conceptual Blending as a Central Process of Grammar, Language, and Communication
The first principle of cognitive linguistics is to look for the origins of linguistic powers in robust mental operations not specific to language. For millennia, language science has assumed that human beings possess mental operations for unifying, combining, and merging patterns to create expressions, and that, conversely, human beings can analyze expressions they encounter to recognize patterns that were combined to produce them. I review some of the research concerned with these linguistic powers. An assumption of, or stipulation of, any such linguistic power needs to be converted into a non-language-specific explanation if the theory is to count as cognitive. I propose that the non-language-specific mental operation that accounts for these linguistic powers is blending, otherwise known as conceptual integration. I provide a topical review of blending in specific communicative form-meaning pairs, otherwise called “constructions.” Blending is involved in the creation of constructions and in the combining of constructions to create expressions.