VIEWPOINT or PERSPECTIVIZATION (perspective vantage point) is the process of describing an object from the point of view of the speaker. In Cognitive Linguistics Viewpoint is regarded as the cognitive mechanism of construal of an object in discourse from the point of view of the speaker (conceptualiser). The act of construal is performed by the speaker to influence the cognitive state of the listener [Iriskhanova 2013].

The notion of Viewpoint was introduced into Cognitive Linguistics by R.Langacker, L.Talmy, R. MacLaury and others, under the influence of the phenomenology of G. W. Leibniz, F. Nietzsche, E. Husserl and M. Merleau-Ponty [Langacker 1987, 2007; Talmy 2001; MacLaury 1995]. Viewpoint is also applied in Cognitive Narratology and is interpreted as a way of building a story or as the subjective positioning of the narrator (author, character, etc.) in relation to an event. Differentiating between viewpoints allows the narratologists to single out the subjective “layers” of the text, its modality and forms of addressing (cf. polyperspectivation by B. Rauschenbach, polyphony by M. Bakhtin, intertextuality by R. Barthes and J. Kristeva).

Viewpoint fits into the fundamental principles of cognitive science, which highlight the significance of the physical perception of the world (embodiment) and the relative, or subjective, nature of cognition. Besides, the term viewpoint answers the modern cognitive trend  to pay special attention to the social factors of discourse.. So, in the sentences John bought a car from Mary for a good price and Mary sold a car to John for a good price the difference in the viewpoints is attributed to the difference in the social roles and intentions of the participant of the  communication. The interpretation of the expression for a good price (i.e. at a low or at a high price) is determined by the viewpoint of the buyer or the seller, who have opposite views on the notion of profit.

According to R. Langacker, Perspective comprises the Vantage point, from which the observer mentally “views” the scene, Subjectivity / Objectivity, Figure/Ground Configuration, and Deixis [Langacker 1987; Langacker 2007; Talmy 1988, 2001] (see analysis of the cognitive approaches to Viewpoint in [Verhagen 2007: 48–81]).

Further reading

Ирисханова О. К. О понятии перспективизации в когнитивной лингвистике// Когнитивные исследования языка: сб. науч. тр. / гл. ред. серии Н. Н. Болдырев. — М.: ИЯ РАН; Тамбов: ИД ТГУ им. Г. Р. Державина, 2013. — С. 43 — 58.

Langacker R. Foundations of Cognitive Grammar. — Vol. I. — Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1987.

Langacker R. Cognitive Grammar // The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics / Ed. D. Geeraerts, H. Cuyckens. — Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. — P. 421–462.

MacLaury R. E. Vantage theory // Language and the Cognitive Construal of the World / J. R. Taylor, R. E. MacLaury (ed.). — Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1995. — P. 231–276.

Talmy L. Towards a Cognitive Semantics. — Vol. I: Concept Structuring System. — Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001.

Verhagen, A. Construal and perspectivisation // The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics / Ed. by D. Geeraerts, H. Cuyckens. — Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. — P. 48–81.

N. Petrova, O. Iriskhanova

Translated by K. Bogdanovich