Significant new developments in brain activity research have revived the debate on the universality of language and its neural basis. Within this debate, the question of language diversity and its implications for cognition remains central and controversial. It is here investigated in an original multimodal approach, covering various aspects of cross-linguistic variation, differences between spoken, signed and drum languages, between normal speech and pathological speech, and also between language and music, as revealed in electric brain activity associated with language processing. The various contributions (linguistic, anthropological, psychological and neurophysical) on the nature and status of variation and invariants in language provides evidence for complex interactions between language-specific processes and general cognitive faculties. This overview of some recent trends in cognitive linguistics opens up a promising new research area in the humanities as well as in the cognitive sciences.
1. Introduction (by Fuchs, Catherine); 2. I: Semantic Variations and Invariance: Cognitive Issues; 3. Diversity in linguistic representations: A challenge for cognition (by Fuchs, Catherine); 4. Cognitive invariants and linguistic variability: From units to utterance (by Robert, Stephane); 5. Subjectivity, invariance, and the development of forms in the construction of linguistic representations (by Culioli, Antoine); 6. Language evolution and semantic representations: A case study of the evolution from "subjectivity" to "objectivity" in French (by Marchello-Nizia, Christiane); 7. II: Conceptualization and Representations of Space across Languages; 8. Spatial orientation in some Austronesian languages (by Ozanne-Rivierre, Francoise); 9. Language space and sociolect: Cognitive correlates of gendere speech in Mopan Maya (by Danziger, Eve); 10. Localization and predication: Ancient geek and various other languages (by Seiler, Hansjakob); 11. The expression of spatial relations and the spatialization of semantic relations in French Sign Language (by Cuxac, Christian); 12. III: Language Activity: From Linguistic to Cognitive Processes; 13. From natural language to drum language: An economical encoding procedure in Banda-Linda, Central African Republic (by Cloarec-Heiss, France); 14. Electrical signs of language in the brain (by Kutas, Marta); 15. Linguistic variations and cognitive constraints in the processing and acquisition of language (by Kail, Michele); 16. Universal vs. language-specific constraints in agrammatic aphasia. Is comparatism back? (by Nespoulous, Jean-Luc); 17. Schizophasia and cognitive dysfunction (by Pachoud, Bernard); 18. Index; 19. Subject index; 20. Author index; 21. Language index