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All the various phenomena of language are interwoven with each other as well as with all of cognition because they are all motivated by the same force: the drive to make sense of our world. Making sense of what we experience entails not just understanding, but an ability to express that understanding, and indeed these two projects inform each other: our experience is formative to expression, but it is also the case that our expressive resources have some influence on how we perceive our experiences. Of course language does most of the heavy lifting (and the finer handiwork) in this job of expression that is so important to cognition. All phenomena of language are mobilized for this task, and all are therefore driven by the need to express meaning. Meaning underwrites the existence of all linguistic units and phenomena, none of which are semantically empty. Meaning is therefore not tidily contained in the lexicon, but ranges all through the linguistic spectrum, because meaning is the very energy that propels the motor of language. Grammar is an abstract meaning structure that interacts with the more concrete meanings of lexicon. Grammar and lexicon are not two discrete types of meaning, but rather the extreme ends of a spectrum of meaning containing transitional or hybrid types (functor words like prepositions and conjunctions are examples of hybrids that carry both lexical and grammatical semantic freight). From the supra- and segmental features of phonology through morphology, syntax, and discourse pragmatics, all of language shares the task of expressing meaning. This includes even idioms and “dead metaphors”, which remain motivated within the system of a given language, and whose motivation can be made explicit.


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