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Introduction. Windows to the mind. Metaphor, Metonymy and Conceptual Blending

Sandra Handl and Hans-Jörg Schmid
1. Windows to the mind: Metaphor, metonymy, and conceptual
The cognitive turn in linguistics, triggered to a large extent by key publica-
tions such as Lakoff and Johnson (1980), Lakoff (1987), and Langacker
(1987), has led to the now widely shared view that our linguistic behaviour
is constrained by the way we experience and perceive the world and by
how we conceptualize and construe these experiences and perceptions in
our minds. This suggests that the study of language allows us to catch a
glimpse of otherwise hidden mechanisms of human thinking. In addition to
opening up windows to the mind, the structure and use of language argua-
bly also has an influence on the way our minds work (cf. Pederson 2007).
Right from the beginning of cognitive linguistics, the realm of figurative
language proved to be an especially fruitful area for studying this reciprocal
relation between language and other cognitive abilities. Mostly concentrat-
ing on metaphor, research has shown that figuratively motivated expres-
sions abound in everyday language. These conventional figurative expres-
sions can be traced back to deeply entrenched mappings, i.e. well-
established mental connections between different domains of experience,
characteristically between a more concrete source domain and an abstract
target domain (cf. e.g. Lakoff and Johnson 1980; Lakoff and Turner 1989).
Starting out from typically inconspicuous linguistic examples, such as (1)
or (2), conceptual metaphor theorists identify underlying patterns of think-
(1) He has strong beliefs.
(2) That belief died out years ago.
In both examples, mental issues are assigned the ontological status of con-
crete entities. (1) bears witness to the fact that essentially abstract concepts
such as
, and the like can be conceptualized as concrete
entities one can possess. In (2),
are construed differently, i.e. as
Sandra Handl and Hans-Jörg Schmid
. Both types of conceptualization lead to further,
related metaphorical ideas: Possessions, for example, can be acquired,
bought, and sold, therefore it is possible to do the same with beliefs (cf. 3–
5). When
are conceptualized as
, they can be re-
garded as
, whose growth stands for the development of the beliefs
(cf. 6), whose roots signify the basis for the beliefs (cf. 7), and whose culti-
vation entails encouragement of the beliefs (cf. 8). Beliefs can, however,
just as easily be construed as
(cf. 9), especially
one has to take care of (cf. 10–11).
(3) He acquired his beliefs during childhood.
(4) I really buy what he’s saying.
(5) He tried to sell me a load of hooey.
(6) This is a flourishing belief in his culture.
(7) This is a deeply rooted belief.
(8) I cultivated a belief in my infallibility among my subordinates.
(9) He espoused that belief publicly.
(10) He nourished his belief with weekly church visits.
(11) He fostered the belief within himself.
Illustrative as these examples may be, they also raise some methodological
questions, mainly regarding the identification of metaphorical expressions
and conceptual mappings. Frequently, studies of conceptual metaphor (e.g.
Lakoff and Johnson 1980, 1999; Kövecses 2000, 2002) use invented exam-
ples to prove the existence of conceptual mappings. One can even suspect
that, at least in some cases, what researchers have in mind first is the map-
ping rather than the examples, i.e. that they construct examples to fit the
mappings proposed. This is certainly a problem, as what is at issue are not
the possible conceptualizations language users have at their disposal, but
those which are frequently used and shared by the majority of the members
of a given speech community, i.e. the conventional metaphors. It cannot be
denied that in strong contexts speakers are able to use and understand al-
most any metaphorical conceptualization.
This, however, only reveals
something about speakers’ competence with regard to conceptualizing and
decoding, but not about how the mind is structured, about how humans
commonly perceive and understand the world. And while examples like (1)
(11) sound natural enough, this does not tell us anything about their au-
thentic use in everyday language. For this reason, the focus of more recent
metaphor research has shifted towards usage-based studies (cf. e.g. Cam-
eron 2003, 2007; Deignan 1999, 2005; Nerlich 2004; Nerlich and Halliday
2007; Stefanowitsch and Gries 2007; Steen 2007). They concentrate mostly
on finding out how frequently different metaphorical mappings are actually
used either in a language as a whole, by relying on large corpora like the
British National Corpus, or in various more specific types of discourse,
such as political discourse or journalistic discourse.
These data-driven approaches go hand in hand with a shift towards more
functional considerations. Since metaphors are first of all ways of thinking
about topics, they are not only informative about how speakers or writers
conceive of a given issue. Especially in text-types such as newspaper arti-
cles and political speeches, they can be and certainly sometimes are used
consciously to influence the hearers’ or readers’ perception of certain is-
sues. Just as it matters whether a
is construed as a
can acquire, buy, and sell more or less at one’s one discretion, or whether it
is construed as a
one has the moral obligation to take care of
and cater to, metaphorical conceptualizations of current events or problems
proposed and publicized by politicians or journalists are apt to affect our
views of these issues. The language chosen to talk about something thus
also has effects on the addressees’ minds, whose current metaphorical
structures are therefore continuously updated by linguistic input.
It can be argued that the figurative structures entrenched in a person’s
mind arise from, and are sustained by, linguistic as well as non-linguistic
sources, which constantly influence each other reciprocally (cf. Figure 1).
One the one hand, taking a ‘Whorfian’ perspective, figurative thought is
influenced by the conventionalized figurative expressions which are part of
and current in the surrounding language(s). For instance, if a speaker’s
native language ‘teaches’ her or him to talk about
in terms of
it may not seem far-fetched to argue that they will eventually come to con-
that way.
On the other hand, an individual’s system of figu-
rative thought is shaped by (non-linguistic) perceptions and experiences.
These can rely on individual and personal memories, opinions or attitudes,
Sandra Handl and Hans-Jörg Schmid
which, however, do not tend to develop in isolation, but rather under the
influence of socio-cultural models and values shared by larger groups of
people (e.g. the culture-specific Japanese conceptualization of
being located in the hara, literally ‘belly’; cf. e.g. Matsuki 1995). In addi-
tion to social factors, universal, as it were pan-human, ones such as bodily
experience play a role, manifested for example in the metaphorical concep-
tualization of
. Closing the feedback loop and again taking a
Whorfian stance, the way these essentially non-linguistic memories and
experiences are processed and structured by individuals may be influenced
by linguistic structures and patterns. The conceptualization of
just mentioned, in addition to being based on the fact that people usually
adopt an erect posture when they are happy, may to some degree also be an
effect of linguistic conventions. In short, the figurative expressions conven-
tionalized in a given language function both as a central determinant and a
mirror image of how the minds of the speakers of the language are struc-
tured and work. It is from this perspective that figurative language can be
seen as opening up a (methodological) window to the notorious black box.
Figure 1. Factors determining an individual’s mental metaphorical system
As suggested by the crucial role attributed to shared experiences, cultural
models, and, last but not least, shared knowledge about a language, patterns
individual experi-
models and values
of figurative thought entrenched in one individual’s mind can be assumed
to be similar to patterns in the minds of speakers with a comparable linguis-
tic and cultural background. This is essentially what conventionality is all
about (cf. Langacker 2008: 21). However, it is far from exceptional that we
come across novel or previously unfamiliar ways of conceptualizing enti-
ties or events. And this concerns not only novel or unfamiliar figurative
cognitive construals, but also any other kind of conceptually multi-layered
One theory which has considerable potential to explain how we deal
with such new or unusual cognitive construals is conceptual blending (also
called conceptual integration theory), introduced by Turner and Fauconnier
(1995) and further developed in multiple publications, notably Fauconnier
and Turner (1998) and (2002). As opposed to conceptual metaphor theory,
conceptual blending emphasizes the on-line processes which lead to our
understanding of linguistic expressions. Blending theory developed out of
Fauconnier’s (1994) mental space theory, an account which underlines that
language only prompts us to construct meaning, since it does no more than
provide us with “minimal, but sufficient, clues” (1994: xviii). Accordingly,
any linguistic input leads to the formation of temporary mental representa-
tions, called mental spaces, i.e. “constructs distinct from linguistic structure
but built up in any discourse according to guidelines provided by the lin-
guistic expressions” (Fauconnier 1994: 16). A good example to illustrate
this are simple metaphorical utterances like (5), repeated here for conven-
ience as (12):
(12) He tried to sell me a load of hooey.
Leaving aside the effect of the verb tried for the time being, conceptual
blending would begin by arguing that the two key words sell and hooey
will call up two related mental spaces in the hearer’s mind, dubbed ‘com-
mercial transaction’ and ‘communication’ in Figure 2. As the internal struc-
tures of these spaces are based on corresponding frames stored in long-term
memory and their components (indicated in the figure), the activation of
these mental spaces is presumably automatic and effortless. The next as-
sumption of conceptual blending theory is that hearers construct a blended
space by projecting selected information from the two input spaces and
integrating it. The details of what is projected and how it is integrated de-
pend on a number of so-called vital relations such as identity, similarity,
and cause-effect and are restricted by a set of governing principles, among
Sandra Handl and Hans-Jörg Schmid
them compression, integration, and relevance (see the papers in Part III for
more details). This is in fact where the verb tried comes in, since the collo-
cation tried to sell conjures up a scene where it is the seller rather than the
buyer who profits from the commercial transaction. This idea is integrated
Figure 2. Conceptual network of He tried to sell me a lot of hooey
with information projected from Input Space 2, especially the strongly eva-
luative expression a load of hooey, in such a way that the hearer arrives at
the interpretation, represented in the blended space, that the referent of he is
trying to deceive the speaker or at least to make him or her believe things
that may not be true. While conceptual metaphor theory would presumably
try to trace this example to conventionalized metaphors such as
and the well-known
-metaphor of communication (cf.
Reddy 1993), it would leave unexplained central components of the inter-
pretation emerging from the juxtaposition of the two domains. These, on
the other hand, play an important role in conceptual blending theory and are
Input 1:
Commercial transaction
: seller
: exchange
goods for money
: goods
: buyer
: profit for
seller (cf. tried to
: he
: talk
: hooey
me (=
: get ideas
: deceiver
: talk
: nonsense
: make
believe, deceive
Input 2:
accounted for in terms of notions like compression, integration, and emer-
gent structure.
Like conceptual metaphor theory, the theory of conceptual blending has
attracted much criticism, since at least in its early versions, before the
optimality principles controlling the most effective generation of blends
had been introduced – it seemed much too unconstrained (cf. e.g. Gibbs
2000). However, it is possibly also the open-ended and all-encompassing
nature of the cognitive process of conceptual integration proposed by this
theory that has made it so attractive to researchers interested in quite di-
verse types of linguistic structures of different sizes: Blending has proven a
powerful tool in explaining long stretches of discourse (cf. e.g. Oakley and
Hougaard 2008), advertising texts (cf. e.g. Herrero Ruiz 2006; Joy, Sherry,
and Deschenes 2009), riddles and jokes (cf. e.g. Coulson 2001: 179–185;
Fauconnier and Turner 1998: 136–142), metaphorical and non-metaphori-
cal phrases and sentences (cf. e.g. Coulson 2001: 125–161; Grady, Oakley,
and Coulson 1999), counterfactuals (cf. e.g. Coulson 2001: 203–212; Pérez
Hernández 2002), constructions (cf. e.g. Broccias 2006; Mandelblit and
Fauconnier 2000), as well as word-formation processes (cf. e.g. Benczes
2006, Ungerer 2007).
Similarly to conceptual metaphor theory,
blending theory thus eluci-
dates structural and regular principles of human cognition as well as prag-
matic phenomena. However, there are also some noteworthy differences
between the two theories. While blending theory has always been more
oriented towards real-life examples, conceptual metaphor theory had to
come of age before it was put to the test with data-driven approaches. A
further difference between the two theories already alluded to is that blend-
ing theory focuses more on the decoding of creative examples, whereas
conceptual metaphor theory is well-known for its interest in conventional
examples and mappings, i.e. in what is stored in people’s minds. But again,
the difference is one of degree and not an absolute one. Blending processes
can be routinized and stored if their outcome proves to be useful on more
than one occasion. And conceptual metaphor theory is able to explain and
accommodate novel figurative linguistic expressions as long as they are
compatible with the more general metaphorical makeup of the human mind.
Another, perhaps somewhat less important difference lies in the fact that
while from the start conceptual blending has pointed to the importance of
metonymic construals and thinking for cognitive processes (cf. e.g. Fau-
connier and Turner 1998: 158–162), the conceptual metaphor paradigm has
long underestimated the role of metonymy, a fact already evident in the
Sandra Handl and Hans-Jörg Schmid
name commonly used to refer to the theoretical framework. Even though
metonymy is already mentioned in Lakoff and Johnson (1980), the book
which largely triggered the by now uncountable publications in this area,
and even though it has been repeatedly underlined that metonymy might
very well be the cognitively more fundamental process (cf. e.g. Lakoff and
Turner 1989: 108; Radden and Kövecses 1999: 24; cf. also Lakoff 1987:
77–90), the lion’s share of attention is still devoted to metaphor. This is
probably also the reason why equally appropriate names for the more gen-
eral area of research, like conceptual theory of metaphor and metonymy or
conceptual theory of figurative language, still sound somewhat strange and
Although both conceptual metaphor (and metonymy) theory and con-
ceptual blending theory are no longer new and have undergone consider-
able scrutiny, both theoretical and empirical, there are still fundamental
questions to be answered. For the conceptual metaphor paradigm, this re-
lates to questions such as how the conventionality of linguistic expressions
and conceptual mappings can be established or the extent to which concep-
tual mappings as such are cognitively real, i.e. the role adults’ and chil-
dren’s knowledge of source domains plays in the understanding of a meta-
phor. For blending theory, this pertains, among other issues, to the
cognitive status and relative weighting of the above-mentioned optimality
principles, i.e. to the question as to how exactly the generation of a blend is
governed by aspects such as integration, unpacking, or relevance. In addi-
tion, and despite several attempts to redress this shortcoming (cf. e.g. Gibbs
2000, Stefanowitsch 2007), both theories still suffer from a certain lack of
methodological rigour which (indeed) invites justified criticism. The arti-
cles in this volume are intended as a contribution to a better understanding
of the explanatory potential as well as possible limitations of the two
frameworks by taking up basic methodological questions and providing
empirical foundations for contested theoretical assumptions.
2. The articles in this volume
The present collection originated mainly from the Second International
Conference of the German Cognitive Linguistics Association, held in Mu-
nich on 5 7 October 2006, with some additional, solicited papers which
fit the overall focus of the volume. The articles assembled here all share the
central idea that cognitive approaches to the study of language open a win-
dow to how the human mind works and is possibly influenced by available
linguistic structures and choices. The volume is divided into three parts.
The first and second build in various ways on the conceptual theory of me-
taphor and metonymy, while the third is devoted to studies set in the
framework of conceptual blending theory.
The first part addresses fundamental issues in the study of metaphor and
metonymy. It begins with a strong, albeit controversial, methodological
statement by Zoltán Kövecses. His article is a contribution to the ongoing
discussion on the extent to which analyses of conceptual metaphor which
are not data-driven can be informative about the role metaphors play in
language users’ minds. Kövecses tackles criticism recently levelled at more
‘traditional’ studies of conceptual metaphor by proponents of usage-based,
bottom-up approaches, such as Dobrovol’skij and Piirainen (2005) and
Stefanowitsch (2007), concerning three different but related points: Firstly,
regarding what has been called intuitive metaphor analysis, i.e. the fact that
many researchers in the field base their arguments on introspection. Such
an approach entails that, secondly, traditional studies potentially miss out
on the irregular character of metaphorical language found when looking
into natural data. And thirdly, that owing to their intuitive methods, they
are hardly able to draw a complete picture of all the possible metaphorical
conceptualizations of different target domains. While Kövecses admits that
all these criticisms are justified to a certain extent, he builds a strong case
for the theoretical and practical value of intuitive studies, mainly by claim-
ing that the results of data-driven research have so far confirmed rather than
refuted the assumptions based on intuitive analyses.
Dmitrij Dobrovol’skij’s paper focuses on the relationship between the
semantics of idioms and their conceptual grounding, and argues that the
linguistic description of the semantics and syntax of idioms can profit very
much from insights gained by cognitive research. The fact that many idi-
oms like to spill the beans or to let the cat out of the bag are motivated by
underlying metaphors has been amply illustrated within cognitive-linguistic
research (cf. e.g. Gibbs and O’Brien 1990; Nayak and Gibbs 1990). Dobro-
vol’skij addresses the problem of the semantic analyzability or decomposa-
bility of idioms, a phenomenon which has been the subject of many, also
non-cognitively-oriented, publications (cf. e.g. Abel 2003; Geeraerts 1995;
Gibbs, Nayak, and Cutting 1989; Nunberg, Sag, and Wasow 1994). Ana-
lyzability is related to the more or less autonomous semantic status of some
of the constituents of the idiom within the actual, non-literal meaning con-
veyed by the idiom as a whole. Dobrovol’skij holds that whether or not the
Sandra Handl and Hans-Jörg Schmid
status of the constituents can be seen as autonomous depends on the mental
metaphors underlying the idiomatic expressions. If the structure of the
metaphorical mental image and that of the idiom’s lexicalized meaning
correlate, the idiom is analyzable. The fact that this also has considerable
effects on the discursive behaviour, i.e. the syntactic flexibility, of idioms,
is illustrated with natural data taken from the internet.
Fundamental questions related to conceptual metaphor theory are also
addressed by Aivars Glaznieks. Like Dmitrij Dobrovol’skij, he investigates
metaphorically-based idiomatic expressions, but Glaznieks focuses on how
children’s understanding of such expressions develops. At the age of four,
children have acquired the general ability to comprehend metaphors, i.e.
metaphorical competence. Still, not each and every metaphorical expres-
sion is understood at this age. It has been found that the further develop-
ment of children’s metaphorical competence is dependent on their knowl-
edge of the domains involved in the metaphorical mappings (cf. Keil 1986).
It could be assumed that it is their knowledge of the source domains rather
than that of the target domains that is vital in this respect, since the source
domains act as explanatory devices for the targets. Glaznieks, however,
provides experimental evidence from children aged five, eight and ten,
suggesting that knowledge about the source domains of metaphors may in
fact be less important for their acquisition and understanding than was pre-
viously believed.
Shifting the focus to metonymy, Sandra Handl’s contribution proposes
an empirical framework for investigating the hitherto much neglected issue
of the conventionality and salience of metonymic meanings. Handl dis-
cusses the results of a usage-based study which show that metonymic con-
struals vary a great deal in terms of their conventionality, operationalized as
being mirrored in the relative frequency of metonymic meanings of lex-
emes and expressions in natural discourse. She demonstrates that the con-
ventionality of metonymy can be approached, especially as far as reversible
mappings are concerned (e.g.
), by applying the laws of ontological salience, as proposed for
example by Kövecses and Radden (1998). However, it is argued that a full
account of the phenomenon, which explains conceptual regularities and
linguistic irregularities alike, can only be given if these more general pref-
erences are supplemented by a consideration of what Handl calls target-in-
vehicle salience, a term which captures the degree to which target-related
attributes are salient in the vehicle concept that is used to convey a meto-
nymic meaning.
The second part of the volume collects papers which share a strong em-
pirical grounding in authentic data and the goal of applying the cognitive-
linguistic theory of metaphor in the service of superordinate aims. Both
Brigitte Nerlich and Monica Petrica study strategies, exploitations, and
effects of the use of metaphor in public discourse. Nerlich examines the
role of metaphor in disease management discourses relating to two recent
types of disease which received considerable media coverage in the last
years, foot and mouth disease and avian influenza. Using UK print media
as the source for her empirical investigations, she shows how different me-
taphor scenarios are created and employed in the media, which then heavily
influence public opinion about such socio-political issues (cf. also Musolff
2006). Nerlich suggests that the metaphorical conceptualization of diseases
and its change over time can, in general, be explained by a source-path-goal
schema, which entails the extensive use of journey metaphors. Accord-
ingly, a virus which has not yet ‘arrived’ in a given country, is construed as
travelling. However, once it has reached its goal, i.e. the country, the con-
ceptualization changes and war metaphors prevail.
The variance of metaphor usage is also the topic of Monica Petrica’s
contribution. She looks into the Maltese journalistic discourse covering the
EU-membership of the country. Based on a corpus of English-language
newspapers, she identifies metaphor variance of two types: overt and cov-
ert. Overt variation describes the more obvious differences between meta-
phors commonly used in countries like Great Britain or Germany, i.e. the
more powerful member states, and Maltese metaphors, i.e. the metaphors of
one of the weaker members. These intercultural differences between Euro-
pean and nation-specific metaphors manifest themselves in the use of dif-
ferent source domains. While the former are dominated by sources like
, or
, the latter depict the EU as a body exercising
pressure upon Malta or even as abusing it. Covert variation designates two
different forms of variation: Firstly, the use of identical source domains
across countries which are, however, linked to different targets in the dif-
ferent states. Secondly, cases in which it seems at first glance as if the
sources and targets employed were the same as in other countries, whereas
a closer analysis reveals that the sources are actually conceptually different.
Petrica shows that the intra-cultural, covert variation in particular can only
be noticed and analyzed if the cultural context is taken into account to a
sufficient degree.
Kathleen Ahrens’ paper is also concerned with political discourse. Her
aim lies in uncovering the underlying cognitive models in the speeches of
Sandra Handl and Hans-Jörg Schmid
US presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush Sr., Bill Clinton, and
George W. Bush Jr. Ahrens takes the criticism of Lakoff’s (1996, 2002)
ideas concerning the two dominant cognitive models related to the two
political parties in the US – i.e. the strict father model (
) for the Republicans and the nurturant parent model (
) for the Democrats – as her starting-point, and proposes a
methodology for the identification of metaphorical models through the
examination of lexical frequency and co-occurrence patterns in small com-
puterized corpora. An analysis of the frequencies of keywords associated
with the two different models proposed by Lakoff as well as a subsequent
examination of collocational patterns is revealing in two respects, as
Ahrens demonstrates: Firstly, with regard to the more general political con-
victions of the different presidents, and secondly, concerning how they
adjust their metaphors to different types of audiences.
Like Ahrens’ paper, Beate Hampe’s contribution relies on corpus data
and has a strong methodological focus. Hampe investigates the semantics
of grammar and combines metaphor theory and construction grammar in
her study of the so-called causative resultatives, which include the Caused-
Motion Construction (e.g. The warm air pushes other air out of the way),
and the Resultative Construction (e.g. If you have fresh maggots, riddle
them clean of the sawdust; both examples taken from the International
Corpus of English GB). By way of collostructional analysis (cf. Ste-
fanowitsch and Gries 2003, Gries and Stefanowitsch 2004), it is demon-
strated that the postulation of the Resultative Construction and its exten-
sions does not exhaustively account for the semantic potential of the
complex-transitive argument structure with adjectival predicative, as there
are multiple form-function mappings. In particular, there is a strong, non-
resultative verb class, which is referred to by Hampe as the attributive
class. This class covers cognition verbs, and the constructional meaning
underlying these expressions can be described as (
]). While
metaphorical polysemy links can account for a wide variety of uses of the
two types of causative resultatives, it is shown that is is not likely that at-
tributive uses of this argument structure are derived via a metaphorical
inheritance link from resultatives ones. Based on this main finding, Hampe
differentiates metaphorical links between constructions on different levels
of generality, i.e. the schematic and the local level.
The third and last part of the volume reflects the growing interest in
conceptual blending theory, and is structured along the size of the linguistic
units investigated. The section starts with Hans-Jörg Schmid’s study of the
understanding of novel N+N-compounds. Based on data on the comprehen-
sion of invented compounds such as bean-garden or hamburger-shrub in-
vestigated by Ryder (1994), Schmid tests the predictions made by concep-
tual blending theory as to how humans are likely to cope with situations in
which they are forced to make sense of novel combinations of existing
lexical material. The theory predicts that the process of ‘running the blend’
is constrained by the governing or optimality principles (cf. Fauconnier and
Turner 1998, 2002). It turns out that the principles of relevance as well as
the maximization of vital relations like
, and
can explain large parts of the data analyzed. However, some
of the vital relations, i.e.
, and
, are not confirmed by the data. Due to the restricted data set, this,
however, does not falsify Fauconnier and Turner’s assumptions. More im-
portantly, the data suggest further conceptual links not yet explicitly cov-
ered by blending theory, such as
- or
-relations, which
are all motivated by the relevance principle hitherto quite unspecified with-
in the framework of blending. Schmid therefore concludes that this princi-
ple should be strengthened and amended by adopting a simplified notion of
optimal relevance in line with Sperber and Wilson’s (e.g. 1995) relevance
The paper by Réka Benczes also applies blending theory to compounds.
Benczes tests the potential of the theory to explain creative ad-hoc meta-
phorical and metonymic N+N-compounds, which have been largely ne-
glected by traditional approaches due to their semantic non-transparency.
After an introduction to the general explanatory potential of blending with
respect to creative compounding, Benczes’s contribution provides detailed
accounts of the meanings of two such compounds, sandwich generation
and flame sandwich. It is argued that their actual meanings have developed
out of a sequence of different blending operations, all initiated by a first,
physical-material blending process which has led to the original meaning of
the word sandwich. The paper ends with some theoretical remarks on the
justification of using of blending theory to explain N+N-compounds.
Elena Tribushinina’s contribution takes the section on blending from
word-formation to the semantic structure of premodified noun phrases. In
her analyses, which concentrate on ‘simple’ noun modifications via predi-
cating colour adjectives (e.g. red house as opposed to more exotic cases
like dolphin-safe or fool-proof), she combines blending theory and ideas
from Langacker’s Cognitive Grammar, especially his notions of active
zones (e.g. 1984, 1987) and reference points (1993). It is shown that, con-
Sandra Handl and Hans-Jörg Schmid
trary to what has been pointed out by Murphy (1990), for example, even the
understanding of ‘simple’ predicating adjectives like red is context-
dependent. It varies with the active zone of the
, i.e. the space
containing information about the modified noun, which is determined by
factors such as e.g. perceptual salience, and discourse relevance. The active
zone of the
, i.e. the space containing information about
the colour, is accessed, however, via a number of reference points within
the spectrum of a given colour. What is more, it is argued that the emergent
structure, typically described as being a characteristic of the blended space
only, is not restricted to this space. Emergent structure is said to pertain to
the whole conceptual integration network, since no one fixed and predeter-
mined reference point exists in the
in the case of pre-
modified noun phrases, but rather different ones among which the decoder
has to choose in order to establish mental contact with the relevant active
The section closes with Siaohui Kok and Wolfram Bublitz’s contribu-
tion, which takes up the register of political discourse also investigated by
Nerlich, Petrica as well as Ahrens, but exploits the potential of blending
theory to explain the fundamental pragmatic phenomena of common
ground and stance/evaluation. They provide detailed analyses of two texts,
one political joke and one short extract from a political speech, where the
evaluative meaning is not encoded in the lexical or structural surface, but
has to be arrived at by way of more complex cognitive processes. Prag-
matic theory alone, it is argued, is not sufficient to account for how what is
actually meant is inferred from what is said in such cases. In line with
blending theory, it is proposed that the addressees’ construal of evaluative
meaning depends on setting up and mapping mental spaces which allow
them to align their ‘inside-world’ to the speaker’s/writer’s. By doing so,
common ground is created, which is accordingly characterized as an emer-
gent configuration composed of semantic as well as attitudinal aspects.
Only when this empathetic process of creating common ground is success-
fully accomplished can the intended evaluative meaning be derived or in-
ferred – either by relying on stored cognitive domains or frames or by con-
structing short-lived mental spaces.
1. The examples in this section are all taken from the Master Metaphor List
(Lakoff, Espenson, and Schwartz 1991). Some of them have been slightly
2. The influence of context on the comprehension of metaphors has been tested
in many psycholinguistic experiments (cf. e.g. Ortony et al. 1978; Gibbs and
Gerrig 1989; Giora and Fein 1999; Gong and Ahrens 2007). Even though the
results are by no means homogeneous, and it has been pointed out that other
factors such as familiarity also play a role, most researchers agree that strong
contexts facilitate comprehension.
3. Fauconnier and Turner (e.g. 1998, 2002) typically use integration networks
consisting of a minimum of four spaces. The so-called generic space which
“contains what the inputs have in common” and is linked to each of the input
spaces (Fauconnier and Turner 1998: 137) is neglected here.
4. A further aspect which would be highlighted more by blending theory than by
conceptual metaphor theory is the following difference between selling goods
and convincing somebody of an idea: Once sold, objects belong exclusively to
the buyer, but ‘sold’ ideas are not ‘possessed’ solely by the person recently
convinced of them. They are usually still shared by the person convincing the
other as well. The invariance principle proposed by conceptual metaphor the-
ory (cf. e.g. Lakoff 1990) to solve such problems is not too successful in ex-
plaining this inconsistency, since both the source and the target involve events
which have largely the same schematic structure. Blending is much more
flexible and explicitly allows inconsistencies between mental representations
which are related by a conceptual integration network.
5. A concise and useful overview of further similarities and differences between
the conceptual theory of metaphor and conceptual blending theory is pro-
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Part I:
Metaphor and metonymy:
Fundamental issues
This entry presents the positive function of embracing contradictions. It shows that the tension induced by the consideration of simultaneous contradictory ideas may actually be positive, especially in the field of creativity. In the literature, there appear to be several concepts related or identical to the idea of embracing contradictions: conceptual blending, the paradox mindset, and Janusian thinking. Herein, some examples of contradictions represented by creative individuals are presented. Moreover, it is delineated how the paradox mindset may augment creativity and divergent thinking. Following this, the entry introduces ways of measuring Janusian thinking and reports the validation process of a proposed questionnaire. Finally, it concludes with outlining possible future studies and applications in practice.
Full-text available
The paper argues that metaphorical expressions do more than just instantiate conceptual metaphors. The main aim is to emphasize the role source and target words’ meanings play in construing generic-level metaphors. The latter are taken to act as superordinate categories for other metaphors, occurring at various levels of schematicity. Identification of lower-level metaphors takes into account source words’ metaphorical senses, not the central meanings of the categories they represent. This method brings the issue of source words’ polysemy into play, and hence helps explain why metaphorical expressions relating to the same generic-level metaphor may activate different lower-level metaphors, which carry different metaphorical meanings.
Full-text available
The paper presents interdisciplinary research using the framework of cognitive linguistics based metaphor theory and nationalism studies of political science. Frames of movement are placed under scrutiny during the discourse analysis of the 2016 and 2021 election manifestos of the Scottish National Party and social media posts. In relation to metaphors of movement, images describing the future of an independent Scotland are also detected. The authors attempt to analyse and interpret findings both from the perspective of cognitive linguistics and ethno-symbolism. Apart from the texts of the manifestos, the timeframe of the research involved social media posts two months preceding and two months following the elections in both cases. Methodology was issue-driven and computer assisted but supervised: key words linked to movement were extracted from the manifestos and clustered. Their occurrence and frequency in the social media posts was checked. In the qualitative analysis phase, messages of the manifestos and of the posts were contrasted in order to answer our research question what kind of persuasive political discourse was used when options for the citizens were outlined.
While the debate about further integration is ongoing, the European Union (EU) already shows signs of functioning like a state. The dynamics of the European integration process are defined by the duality of inter-governmentalism and supranationalism. This contradiction encouraged the development of the EU as a new hybrid political organisation. A software-assisted discourse analysis of the European State of the Union Addresses highlights that Presidents of the EU Commission have indeed conceptualised the Union both as a state-like entity and an intergovernmental institution because of its unique process of evolution, as evidenced by parallelism with the US event, the co-occurrence of conventional metaphors of statehood and EU-related metaphors as well as the merging of the concepts of “Europe” and “European Union” in the Addresses. Overall, the Addresses have contributed to creating a context of statehood for the EU on the one hand, and to reinforcing the position of the Presidents of the European Commission of the EU Parliament as leaders of the EU on the other.
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The paper discusses the possible meeting areas between oriental studies, archaeology, and cognitive linguistics. The point of departure is study of Chris Gosden (2008) in which he shows a possible cooperation between archaeology and neuroscience when the interactions among brain-body-world are taken into account. On the example of a sword from the Iron Age, he shows the mutual influences of the brain-body-culture complex on the one hand, and the materials used in craft. I will follow his line of reasoning and show the use of the concept of gold processing in thinking about cognition as it is attested in the early Indian texts. The example analyzed in the paper is a description of a Buddhist meditation attested in the Pāli Canon (c. 4th-1st centuries BCE). With the use of cognitive linguistics models of mental processes, I will show how the triangle brain-bodyworld can be enlarged with two more elements, namely, the mind and signs.
This chapter shows how mental complexity can be expressed through polyphonic music. Polyphony contradicts Chomsky’s understanding of well-formed systems. Christian Metz tried to understand the film as a system, but concluded that this was not possible. Kant emphasized that the mind is governed by rules. Hegel criticized this. In contrast to both Kant and Hegel, this chapter is based on the hypothesis that our regulatory systems are refined products of more fundamental, irrational activities, which can be understood in light of synesthesia. Consequently, attention is directed towards linguistic blending, in which concepts are merged. Against this background, this chapter ends with a presentation of Conceptual Blending Theory, which specifically aims to reveal how many incomparable entities are linked even in the most self-evident reasoning.
In media coverage, Europe is understood as either political or institution-specific. Metaphorical expressions, such as the PATH / JOURNEY / TRANSPORT metaphor, the CONSTRUCTION / HOUSE metaphor or the ORGANISM metaphor, are often used for different developments and decisions. This article examines the conceptualisation of EUROPE in the Italian press of the 20th and early 21st centuries. Central events of European policy are the focus of attention, such as the founding of the EEC and the signing of the Treaty of Rome in 1957, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 with the dissolution of the border between Western Europe – metonymically referred to as Europe for decades – and Eastern Europe, and the continuous enlargement of the EU from 1973 onwards. On the basis of a comprehensive corpus of Italian daily press (Corriere della Sera, La Stampa), the concepts used metaphorically in political reporting and possible Italian preferences will be identified.KeywordsEuropeItalymetaphorconceptualisationpress
This entry presents the positive function of embracing contradictions. It shows that the tension induced by the consideration of simultaneous contradictory ideas may actually be positive, especially in the field of creativity. In the literature, there appear to be several concepts related or identical to the idea of embracing contradictions: conceptual blending, the paradox mindset, and Janusian thinking. Herein, some examples of contradictions represented by creative individuals are presented. Moreover, it is delineated how the paradox mindset may augment creativity and divergent thinking. Following this, the entry introduces ways of measuring Janusian thinking and reports the validation process of a proposed questionnaire. Finally, it concludes with outlining possible future studies and applications in practice.
Based on the view that “The meanings that we take most for granted are those where the complexity is best hidden”, the paper attempts to describe the complex cognitive operations at work in the process of proverb understanding. The main goal is to build up a model capable of accounting for how proverbs mean and how speakers within a speech community understand them the way they do. Such a model is not a completely new one; rather, it is built out of a number of already existing models, namely Conceptual Metaphor Theory, Great Chain Metaphor Theory, Stereotype Theory and Metaphoric Integration Theory. Each of these theories reduces to an individual ingredient which fulfills a specific task within the broad model as a whole. The broad model is applied to two case studies in order to indicate how it works in the case of proverbs with simple metaphorical structures and in proverbs with complex metaphorical potential.
The paper deals with semantic relations in the field of proverbs from the standpoint of Conceptual Metaphor Theory. Our main claim is that proverb understanding is conceptually complex, involving many construal operations, namely metaphor. Metaphor is assumed to play a crucial role in framing and relating proverbs to one another via various semantic relationships. Three semantic relations will be highlighted: synonymy, antonymy and polysemy. Synonymous proverbs will be shown to be structured by similar metaphors, whereas antonymous proverbs by contradictory metaphors. As regards polysemous proverbs, our focus will be on a specific polysemy, consisting of contradictory meanings. Overall, we will attempt to build a cognitive model for proverbs semantic relationships, based on three main assumptions: first, proverbs have relatively stable meaning. Second, rather than sharply distinct, conventionalized meaning and contextual meaning of proverbs form a continuum, residing in their common conceptual base. Third, such a common conceptual base is metaphor-dependent.
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Metaphorical and metonymical compounds – novel and lexicalised ones alike – are remarkably abundant in language. Yet how can we be sure that when using an expression such as land fishing in order to speak about metal detecting, the referent will be immediately understood even if the hearer had not been previously familiar with the compound? Accordingly, this book sets out to explore whether the semantics of metaphorical and metonymical noun–noun combinations can be systematically analysed within a theoretical framework, where systematicity pertains to regularities in both the cognitive processes and the products of these processes, that is, the compounds themselves. Backed up by recent psycholinguistic evidence, the book convincingly demonstrates that such compounds are not semantically opaque as it has been formerly claimed: they can in fact be analysed and accounted for within a cognitive linguistic framework, by the combined application of metaphor, metonymy, blending, profile determinacy and schema theory; and represent the creative and associative word formation processes that we regularly apply in everyday language.
George Lakoff and Mark Johnson take on the daunting task of rebuilding Western philosophy in alignment with three fundamental lessons from cognitive science: The mind is inherently embodied, thought is mostly unconscious, and abstract concepts are largely metaphorical. Why so daunting? "Cognitive science--the empirical study of the mind--calls upon us to create a new, empirically responsible philosophy, a philosophy consistent with empirical discoveries about the nature of mind," they write. "A serious appreciation of cognitive science requires us to rethink philosophy from the beginning, in a way that would put it more in touch with the reality of how we think." In other words, no Platonic forms, no Cartesian mind-body duality, no Kantian pure logic. Even Noam Chomsky's generative linguistics is revealed under scrutiny to have substantial problems. Parts of Philosophy in the Flesh retrace the ground covered in the authors' earlier Metaphors We Live By , which revealed how we deal with abstract concepts through metaphor. (The previous sentence, for example, relies on the metaphors "Knowledge is a place" and "Knowing is seeing" to make its point.) Here they reveal the metaphorical underpinnings of basic philosophical concepts like time, causality--even morality--demonstrating how these metaphors are rooted in our embodied experiences. They repropose philosophy as an attempt to perfect such conceptual metaphors so that we can understand how our thought processes shape our experience; they even make a tentative effort toward rescuing spirituality from the heavy blows dealt by the disproving of the disembodied mind or "soul" by reimagining "transcendence" as "imaginative empathetic projection." Their source list is helpfully arranged by subject matter, making it easier to follow up on their citations. If you enjoyed the mental workout from Steven Pinker's How the Mind Works , Lakoff and Johnson will, to pursue the "Learning is exercise" metaphor, take you to the next level of training. --Ron Hogan Two leading thinkers offer a blueprint for a new philosophy. "Their ambition is massive, their argument important.…The authors engage in a sort of metaphorical genome project, attempting to delineate the genetic code of human thought." -The New York Times Book Review "This book will be an instant academic best-seller." -Mark Turner, University of Maryland This is philosophy as it has never been seen before. Lakoff and Johnson show that a philosophy responsible to the science of the mind offers a radically new and detailed understandings of what a person is. After first describing the philosophical stance that must follow from taking cognitive science seriously, they re-examine the basic concepts of the mind, time, causation, morality, and the self; then they rethink a host of philosophical traditions, from the classical Greeks through Kantian morality through modern analytical philosophy.
This paper offers a short description and critical appraisal of four cognitive ap-proaches to grammar, Langacker's Cognitive Grammar, Goldberg's Construc-tion Grammar, Croft's Radical Construction Grammar and Fauconnier and Turner's Blending Theory. It first points out that the term "grammar" is polyse-mous, having both a narrow/traditional/descriptive sense (grammar as syntax plus morphology) and a broad/generative/cognitive sense (grammar as a theory of language). Both interpretations are taken into account. In a narrow sense, the present paper tries to evaluate how the four models define word classes and syn-tactic functions and how they handle specific constructions such as change con-structions and noun phrases. In a broad sense, this contribution argues that Cog-nitive Grammar remains the most innovative and comprehensive cognitive theory of grammar and that the other models can, to some extent, be regarded as notational variants. They highlight different (though related) facets of the shared conceptualization of language as a taxonomic and diffuse network, i.e. of lan-guage as a structured inventory of conventional linguistic units where much is a matter of degree.