Lexical concepts, cognitive models and meaning-construction

Vyvyan Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper I address the role of words in meaning-construction. My starting point is the observation that the ‘meanings’ associated with words are protean in nature. That is, the semantic values associated with words are flexible, open-ended and highly dependent on the utterance context in which they are embedded. In attempting to provide an account of meaning-construction that coheres with this observation, I develop a cognitively realistic theory of lexical representation and a programmatic theory of lexical concept integration. My fundamental claim is that there is a basic distinction between lexical concepts and meaning. While lexical concepts constitute the semantic units conventionally associated with linguistic forms, and form an integral part of a language user’s individual mental grammar, meaning is a property of situated usage-events, rather than words. That is, meaning is not a function of language per se, but arises from language use. I present an account of lexical concepts and the conceptual knowledge structure, cognitive models, with respect to which they are relativised. I also situate this theory within a usage-based account. I then develop a theory of lexical concept integration which serves to provide an account of how lexical concepts are combined in service of situated meaning-construction. As the construct’s lexical concept and cognitive model are central to the theory of lexical representation and meaning-construction I present, I refer to the approach developed here as the Theory of Lexical Concepts and Cognitive Models, or LCCM Theory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)491-534
Number of pages44
JournalCognitive Linguistics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006

Bibliographical note

© 2006 Walter de Gruyter


  • Lexical concept
  • cognitive model
  • meaning-construction
  • semantic composition
  • lexical representation
  • word-meaning
  • LCCM theory
  • encyclopaedic knowledge


Dive into the research topics of 'Lexical concepts, cognitive models and meaning-construction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this