I am a cognitive linguist with a background in discourse analysis and text linguistics. I advocate an integrated approach to the study of language cognition with an emphasis on achieving neurobiological plausibility. To meet this aim, I subscribe to the Neural Theory of Language (NTL) developed by the ICBS team at UC Berkeley. Much of my work is now dedicated to the development of the following associated research programmes:
- Towards a Neural Theory of Discourse (Process and Practice)
The Neural Theory of Language (NTL) offers a radical revision of the nature of natural language. Supported by empirical and experimental evidence in cognitive neuroscience and psycholinguistics, NTL views linguistic processing as a modality specific simulation. Traditional approaches to NTL pursue questions related to machine learning and natural language processing; in contrast, I apply NTL to questions drawn from discourse studies. By integrating embodied construction grammar and simulation semantics with traditional text-linguistic methodologies, I pursue the neural substrate that drives the experience of meaning.
The NTL programme is not limited to theoretical and methodological matters; rather, NTL provides an opportunity to address concerns in critical and socio- linguistics. By adopting a critical-constructivist perspective, I apply NTL to questions traditionally associated with social constructionism. Why do abstract agents, forces, and processes, such as an economic market, or a political idea, appear to ‘make sense’? What are the linguistic, conceptual, and neurocognitive correlates that contribute to the process(es) of sense-making? To what extent do the processes attributed to sense-making aid the social construction of everyday life? More crucially, to what extent can these questions be tested using experimental and empirical methodologies?
In conjunction with colleagues at Edge Hill University and Liverpool John Moores University, I contribute to a joint-project that seeks to explore the implications of a critical pedagogy in both theory and practice. This venture is formalised in collaboration with the Critical Pedagogies and Theories for Post-compulsory and Informal Education research group at CERES, Liverpool John Moores University. For my part, I advocate a cognitive-constructivist approach to methodological and pedagogical issues. More importantly, I address the ways in which institutional practices are reconfigured through texts and discourses.
While my primary interests remain in the fields of language-use, and the cognitive and brain sciences, I am also interested in the historical divide between linguistic philosophy and philosophy of language. In addition, I maintain currency with related fields, including artificial intelligence and machine learning; the emergent impact of disruptive technologies; and the history and philosophy of science.