Arie Verhagen, University of Leiden 


Usage based theory in cognitive linguistics started with the idea that many properties of an adult person’s mental grammar can be explained on the basis of a person’s experience with language to a (far) greater extent than previously acknowledged. With the elaboration of the theory in recent decades, by an increasing number of scholars in different linguistic subfields, it developed more and more into a comprehensive theory of language and its structural properties as an emergent phenomenon: in communicative interaction, in an individual’s lifetime (acquisition), over generations (language change, grammaticalization), and over evolutionary time (origins of language). This implies a ‘rapprochement’ between (cognitive) linguistics and the biological study of communicative behavior, and allows the formulation of a comprehensive evolutionary framework in which the study of special properties of human communication – including intersubjective coordination/cooperation, conventional language, and grammar – finds a natural place.