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EDITORS: Sandra Handl, Hans-Jörg Schmid TITLE: Windows to the Mind SUBTITLE: Metaphor, Metonymy and Conceptual Blending SERIES TITLE: Cognitive Linguistics Research [CLR] 48 PUBLISHER: De Gruyter Mouton YEAR: 2011
Chris Blankenship, Northern Illinois University
SUMMARY This collection originates predominantly from papers presented at the Second International Conference of the German Cognitive Linguistics Association with some additional, solicited chapters included as well. The twelve texts focus, as the title indicates, on conceptual metaphor and metonymy theory and conceptual blending/integration theory, providing a wide array of research areas and methodologies within these frameworks. In establishing a general common ground, the editors note that these articles ''all share the central idea that cognitive approaches to the student of language open a window to how the human mind works and is possibly influenced by available linguistic structures and choices'' (pp. 8-9). While the scope varies widely throughout the volume, all come back to this central concept of exploring the explanatory potential of these cognitive approaches while considering the possible limitations as well.
The book begins with a short introduction by the editors, providing a brief history of conceptual metaphor and conceptual blending theories, including an explanation for their combination of conceptual metaphor and metonymy into a single area of research interest. The book's primary concern, however, is addressing a ''certain lack of methodological rigour'' that has invited the most justifiable criticism of both theories (p. 8). Many chapters take up these issues of basic methodology and empirical foundations. They are organized into three parts with four texts apiece that reflect the respective theories and scopes of the projects. Parts I and II deal with metaphor and metonymy, though in different ways. Part I contains papers that are more broadly theoretical, where fundamental issues of the theory, such as basic methodology and general metaphor structure, are investigated. The papers in Part II, on the other hand, are more tightly focused, usage-based studies with the goal of applying conceptual metaphor theory ''in the service of more superordinate aims'' (p. 11). Part III shifts to the theory of conceptual blending in a more general way, combining the emphases of fundamental investigations and data-driven studies seen in the previous two sections.
The four papers in Part I focus on wider issues of theoretical support, definition, and assessment within conceptual metaphor and metonymy. The first chapter, “Methodological Issues in Conceptual Metaphor Theory” by Kövecses sets the tone for the entire volume. Much as Handl and Schmid begin in the general introduction, Kövecses contends with the criticism that conceptual metaphor scholarship has been largely intuitive rather than data-driven. He defends this type of research, arguing that data-driven approaches have largely upheld the assertions of intuitive studies, and that these studies can also be performed much more quickly, allowing for more knowledge to be accumulated, despite being generally ''imprecise, incomplete, and vague'' (p. 25). Kövecses argues for a combined approach, with intuitive studies accumulating knowledge quickly by focusing on the regularities of cognition, while data-driven studies can empirically test this knowledge and focus on the irregularities. In the second chapter of this section, “The Structure of Metaphor and Idiom Semantics (A Cognitive Approach),” Dobrovol'skij argues that the semantic analyzability, or decomposability, of idioms, is based on the underlying metaphors of the expressions. By looking at idioms such as ''to spill the beans'' and ''to let the cat out of the bag'' gathered from natural data available on the Internet, he determines that the constituents of idiomatic expressions can only be autonomous if the underlying metaphoric structure ''homomorphically correlates with the structure of the lexicalized meaning'' (p. 55). This conclusion not only has implications for semantic analyzability of idioms, but also for the discursive behavior of the expressions. The third chapter, “Why Focus on Target Domains? The Importance of Domain Knowledge in Children’s Understanding of Metaphors,” also focuses on metaphoric idiomatic expressions, investigating how children develop the ability to understand them. Using experimental data from groups of German-speaking five-, eight-, and ten-year-olds, specifically in the domains of FEAR and ANGER, Glaznieks demonstrates that children younger than ten ''lack relevant knowledge about emotions they may need to understand metaphorical expressions in a proper way'' (p. 79). Through this, he concludes that, despite what previous research may indicate, knowledge of source domains may be less important to the development of metaphorical understanding than knowledge of the target domains. In “Salience and the Conventionality of Metonymies,” Handl concludes Part I by addressing the relative dearth of scholarship on how to define and assess the conventionality of metonymic expressions. Using the British National Corpus, she demonstrates that while only one criterion of the conventionality of metaphorical expressions is cross-applicable with metonymy, consideration of salience can compensate. Handl finds, however, that the rules of ontological salience alone are inadequate and must be supplemented by what she terms ''target-in-vehicle salience,'' a particular kind of attribute salience that describes ''the degree to which target-related attributes are salient in the vehicle concept'' (p. 10).
The four chapters in Part II are described as usage-based studies, most of which apply conceptual metaphor theory in the analysis of various social exigencies. The first of these analyses, “The Role of Metaphor Scenarios in Disease Management Discourses: Foot and Mouth Disease and Avian Influenza,” is Nerlich's investigation of how specific metaphors of disease influence reactions to potential epidemics. Using a variety of news sources, Nerlich tracks the discourse surrounding the outbreaks of foot and mouth disease and avian influenza in the UK. Through a correlation of the relative proximity of the disease and the rise and fall of certain metaphors (JOURNEY, INVASION, and WAR primarily), she creates a schema of source-path-goal to describe the discursive shifts in how both the media and policy-makers in the UK addressed these disease management scenarios. In a similar study, “’Overt’ vs. ‘Covert’ Cultural Variance in Metaphor Usage: ‘Europe’ vs. Malta and the EU-Membership Debate,” Petrica uses a corpus of Maltese English-language newspapers between 2000 and 2008 to analyze metaphors in the discourse concerning the country's prospective membership in the European Union. In her analysis, she identifies both overt and covert variations in the usage of these metaphors by comparing the data from the first corpus to those of German and British metaphors in the Eurometa-Corpus. Overt variations are obvious differences, such as dominant countries using metaphors of FAMILY or BUILDING whereas the less dominant use metaphors of pressure or abuse. Covert metaphoric variations, by contrast, are either metaphors with similar source domains linked to different target domains, or are metaphors that seem identical at first, but are later found to have different conceptual sources due to cultural differences. In the third chapter of this section, “Examining Conceptual Metaphor Models through Lexical Frequency Patterns: A Case Study of U.S. Presidential Speeches,” Ahrens echoes one of Kövecses' assertions about intuitive conceptual metaphor studies by providing a data-driven study of Lakoff's two cognitive models of political/moral systems, the ''strict father model'' and the ''nurturant parent model'' from his book, Moral Politics (2002). Using a corpus of 1066 speeches given by four American presidents (Reagan through Bush Jr.), Ahrens provides lexical frequency and collocation pattern analyses of lexemes linked to each of the two political/moral models by source domain. While her findings do support Lakoff's hypothesis, more importantly, she demonstrates a method of testing cognitive models through narrowly focused corpora that avoids the circularity in models based solely on conceptual metaphors. In the final chapter of this section, “Metaphor, Constructional Ambiguity and the Causative Resultatives,” Hampe combines metaphor theory and construction grammar in a corpus-based study of the Caused-Motion Construction (CMC) and the Resultative Construction (RC). Using the International Corpus of English-GB and a selection of the CHILDES database, Hampe provides a collostructional analysis of these constructions and concludes that both of the argument structures in question code for a wider range of meanings, and that this extension makes ''metaphorical inheritance link[s] from the CMC to the RC at the level of the fully schematic ASC'' unlikely (p. 206-7). Additionally, Hampe's analysis brings to light another central verb class, called here the attributive class, covering cognition verbs present in the RC pattern. Through considering metaphorical polysemy links, Hampe concludes that a differentiation of metaphorical links between these constructions exist on different levels of generality.
The final section of this volume covers topics that make use of conceptual blending theory. It begins with Schmid's chapter, “Conceptual Blending, Relevance, and Novel N+N Compounds,” where he uses experimental data on novel N+N compounds to test the predictive power of the conceptual blending theory. Drawing from a body of data from a previously conducted study, Schmid finds that the construction of N+N compounds use most of the vital relations and governing principles of blending theory as outlined by Fauconnier and Turner, though some vital relations did not appear in the data set, and a small number of conceptual links not covered in the basic theory were also discovered. Through this analysis, he finds that the general cognitive predictive power of blending theory is confirmed and is in need of no major revisions. In following chapter, “Blending and Creativity in Metaphorical Compounds: A Diachronic Investigation,” Benczes provides a similar exploration of N+N compounds, though she focuses specifically on two creative metaphorical compounds: ''sandwich generation'' and ''flame sandwich.'' Using blending theory, Benczes not only accounts for the meanings of these two compounds individually, but also extends that analysis to a succession of blending operations starting with the original concept of ''sandwich.'' This study confirms the feasibility of using blending theory to analyze these typically semantically non-transparent compounds. The third chapter in this section, “Reference Points in Adjective-Noun Conceptual Integration Networks,” follows the problems associated with the assumption of simple semantic compositionality. Here, Tribushinina investigates the emergent properties in adjective-noun combinations, particularly those of color adjectives, through the conceptual integration of two or more mental spaces. She demonstrates through multiple examples from the British National Corpus that color adjectives, even when constrained only to perceptual meanings, are context dependent, and that ''the active zones of both the PROPERTY SPACE and the ENTITY SPACE may change under a number of constraints'' (p. 287). Tribushinina also demonstrates that these emergent structures may be pervasive in the entire conceptual integration network rather than simply being confined to the blended space. Because these constraints are not fixed points within the mental spaces, the emergent structures are a series of complex links between the active zones identified through multiple cognitive reference points. In the final chapter of the book, “Conceptual Blending, Evaluation, and Common Ground: George W. Bush and Saddam as Friend or Foe?” Kok and Bublitz approach the topics of common ground and evaluation, particularly in American and British political discourse. Much as several other authors in this volume have noted, conventional semantic and grammatical analyses can only take interpretation so far, but Kok and Bublitz add to this by including pragmatic theories as insufficient, as well. Using two evaluative texts, a political joke from a US talk show and a 2003 quote from Tony Blair, they show how evaluation may not only rest upon ''stored, stable mental domains and frames'' but equally upon ''ad hoc created transitory or disposable mental spaces'' (p. 305). While Kok and Bublitz do acknowledge that more empirical evidence is needed to prove their claim, they provide a persuasive argument towards a cognitive approach being able to bridge the gap between word and implication in evaluative statements.
EVALUATION The four papers in Part I provide a useful place to start for scholars interested in conceptual metaphor and metonymy studies. By covering issues of methodology, semantics, psycholinguistics, salience, and the bridge between metaphor and metonymy within these few papers, both novice and experienced scholars will find use from the scholarship. Additionally, the tone set by the first paper concerning methodology and data-driven studies is nicely echoed by the following articles, all of which make use of either experimental data or corpora to provide interesting, empirical studies on issues that are fundamental to conceptual metaphor/metonymy theory.
The usage-based contributions of Part II continue the trend of providing data-driven, empirically rigorous studies using a framework of conceptual metaphor theory; however, the breadth of the topics is not nearly as wide in this section of the book. The first three texts here all focus, to varying degrees, upon political discourse. Nerlich, Petrica, and Ahrens employ conceptual and methodological intricacies that certainly make each contribution distinctive without overlapping, while keeping a common theme and a common focus on providing usage-based studies. As such, Hampe's contribution to the section is conspicuous for its in-depth semantic and syntactic analysis outside of the political discourse domain. It would have, perhaps, been more effective to either provide a greater variety of topics among the articles in this section (much like Part I) or to fully embrace the theme established by the first three papers and simply rename the section.
The texts of Part III provide useful discussions concerning conceptual blending, but many of the pieces read more like justifications of the power of the theory than applications. Perhaps this is because blending theory is relatively new, especially when placed side by side with articles making use of conceptual metaphor theory. Despite this somewhat defensive tone, the articles in this section provide compelling arguments about the merits of blending theory, ably demonstrating how it can bridge gaps in our current understanding of word formation, semantic structure, and evaluation. The only way this section might have been stronger is if the trend of using wide arrays of data had continued on from the previous sections. Aside from Schmid's piece, each of the studies in this section used relatively small sets of data, albeit still usage-based.
Overall, this book is an admirable collection of works on two of the most prominent theories in cognitive linguistics. The empirical, usage-based approaches used in most of the articles provide excellent examples of how conceptual investigations can move away from purely intuitive research. Aside from perhaps one or two pieces, this collection is also quite accessible for novices, making it a good choice for a graduate seminar on cognitive linguistics while still being quite useful for experienced scholars who wish to keep abreast of some of the most recent developments in the field.
Lakoff, G. (2002). Moral politics: How liberals and conservatives think. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Chris Blankenship is a doctoral candidate in English at Northern Illinois
University and an instructor in the writing program at the University of
Colorado at Colorado Springs. His research focuses on applications of
conceptual metaphor theory, composition and rhetoric, and online discourse.