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Beyond Conceptual Metaphor Theory: Towards a Usage-based Account of Figurative Language Vyv Evans University of Brighton

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Presentation on theme: "Beyond Conceptual Metaphor Theory: Towards a Usage-based Account of Figurative Language Vyv Evans University of Brighton"— Presentation transcript:

1 Beyond Conceptual Metaphor Theory: Towards a Usage-based Account of Figurative Language Vyv Evans University of Brighton

2 Aims To develop an account of the range of linguistic phenomena often described as constituting ‘metaphor’ and ‘metonymy’ Metaphor (1)a. Achilles is a lion b. Time whizzed by Metonymy (2)a. France beat New Zealand in the Rugby world cup b. The ham sandwich has wandering hands To highlight problems with the received view: CMT To situate my account within a modern usage-based approach to meaning-construction. This approach is grounded in a novel approach to lexical structure, and a concomitant cognitively realistic account of semantic composition--LCCM Theory

3 Aims cont’d To address issues from workshop 1: –to operationalise the distinction between figurative and literal langauge –to operationalise the distinction between metaphor and metonymy –to account for systematicities in metaphoric thought and language –to do so from the perspective of regular processes of meaning-construction, semantic change and language use(rs) –to do so while reflecting psychological reality

4 My Claims Figurative thought makes use of the semantic resources of the semiotic system in which it is grounded, i.e. language--Imagining for speaking (Evans & Zinken 2005), rather than sub-symbolic (i.e., language-independent) knowledge structures The process of imagining for speaking is contrained by embodied cognition (not determined by it, cf. Lakoff and Johnson 1999) Figurative language arises from regular meaning- construction processes, which are, in principle, no different from those that give rise to non-figurative language

5 My claims cont’d Figurative meaning derives from a meaning-construction process, rather than constituting pre-existing sub-symbolic knowledge structures which are assembled Figurative thought and understanding is a consequence of the expression of situated communicative intentions--a function of language use

6 Presentation Structure CMT An overview of LCCM Theory Metaphor and metonymy as ‘access’ phenomena The communicative functions of metaphor and metonymy What’s not metaphor Comparison with the two-domain approach of CMT Workshop questions Summary

7 Conceptual Metaphor Theory Figurative language is licensed by a ‘system’ of cross- domain and within-domain knowledge structures: conceptual metaphors and metonymies Some of these knowledge structures are universal (super-schematic schemas/primary metaphors). Others (“compound” metaphors) are language-specific. In both cases, these knowledge structures are a function of the embodiment of cognition (e.g., association between correlations within elemental “primary scenes”) Moreover, both kinds of metaphor are independent of language, i.e., sub-symbolic Figurative language is a function of using this ‘system’ of knowledge structures

8 What this view leaves out... Emphasis on figurative language as an outcome of a sub- symbolic knowledge system leaves out: The usage-based nature of figurative language: e.g., The role of figurative language in expressing communicative intentions, expression of specific discourse goals (Nerlich et al; 2004; Zinken et al., To appear; e.g., discourse metaphors) The nature of conceptual evolution (e.g., Musolff, Nerlich, etc.) The role of language as a ‘semiotic’ system (e.g., linguistic conventions for expressing meaning) The role of language in the construction of meaning

9 Some problems with CMT CMT relies (mainly) on linguistic evidence which is increasingly distant from the sub- symbolic knowledge structures it posits (Evans 2004a) Received view of motivation for asymmetry between target and source concepts/domains is cognitively implausible (Evans 2004a, b) Incompatible with much recent work on semantic change (e.g., Traugott and Dasher 2002; Rice et al. 1999)

10 Some problems with CMT cont’d Out-of-date wrt to recent work on conceptual representation (e.g., Barsalou 1999; Croft 1993; Langacker 1987 Circular reasoning makes it difficult to falsify (uses language to point to sub- symbolic structures, which, in turn license the language patterns called on as evidence)

11 Lexical concepts for time TEMPORAL LEXICAL- CONCEPT MOTION EVENTEXAMPLES 1. (Magnitude of) Duration: i) ‘protracted duration’ ii) ‘temporal compression’ Slow motion Stationariness Rapid motion Imperceptible motion drag, move slowly, etc. stand still, stop, freeze, etc. move fast, fly, whiz, zoom, etc. disappear, vanish, has gone, etc. 2. Temporal MatrixNon-terminal motionflow, move on, go on, etc. 3/4. Temporal Moment/ Temporal Event Deictic/ terminal motion come, arrive, approach, get closer, move up on, etc.

12 Levels of temporal processing Temporal mechanisms and processes are central to perceptual and bodily function. These are hard- wired, and attributable to specific brain regions and biochemical processes. i) Microsecond processing: sound localisation, echolocation ii) Millisecond processing: speech generation/recognition, motion detection, motor coordination iii) Second processing: conscious time estimation iv) Circadian rhythms: appetite, wake-sleep

13 Embodiment and language CMT provides an oversimplistic view of language and embodied cognition: e.g., time derives from event comparison Embodied cognition provides a constraining function on langauge qua semiotic system exx. Time conceptualised as motion thro’ space -central function of many perceptual systems is to detect motion, e.g., what and where visual systems -neurological mechanisms employ timing mechanisms for perceiving motion events -time is phenomenologically real, and correlates with perception of motion -elaboration patterns for temporal concepts is not predicted by conceptual metaphors, and are language-specific

14 LCCM theory: Assumptions Meaning is not a structure or structures which can be assembled --the received Fregean view of compositionality. Meaning is a process or an ‘act’. That is, words (and other linguistic units) do not mean in their own right. Meaning emerges from: i) the way in which words are deployed in utterances, ii) the way they prompt for and draw upon conceptual (or encyclopaedic) knowledge, iii) the way this knowledge is integrated, in service of the expression of speaker (communicative) intentions.

15 LCCM theory: Background The account of lexical representation builds on previous work with Andrea Tyler (Tyler & Evans 2003), and work on temporal cognition (Evans 2004). The account of meaning-construction builds on previous ‘encyclopaedic’ approaches to meaning, in particular Langacker (1987), Cruse (e.g., 2002), and Croft’s (1993) Domain Highlighting model. The account of meaning-construction is also informed by joint collabortion with Jörg Zinken in developing a unified account of figurative language.

16 LCCM Theory Lexical representation Lexical concept integration lexical concepts cognitive models lexical concept selection fusion integrationinterpretation An overview of the architecture of LCCM Theory

17 A Modern Account of Lexical Representation Semantic structure consists of representations which are specialised for encoding conceptual structure by making use of the symbolic resources available in a communication-focused system such as language Two components: –i) lexical concepts, which provide access to –ii) Cognitive models

18 Lexical Concepts Lexical concepts are representations which encode conceptual structure in a form specific to language They have a number of properties : i) form-specific, ii) resolved and unresolved phonetic forms. iii) Combinatoriality (by virtue of fusion, discussed later) iii) A semantic network profile

19 Lexical Concepts Cont’d iv) Each lexical concept has a lexical profile, a unique ‘biometric’ identifier; consisting of semantic and formal selectional tendencies v) Semantic value: a. Informational characterisation (afford ‘access’ to non- linguistic conceptual structure, aka cognitive models) b. Encapsulation (serve to ‘define’ an idea) c. Relationality (non-relational vs relational) d. Temporal structure, aka ‘mode’ of access (of relational lexical concepts) e. Referentiality (denotational vs deictic vs anaphoric)

20 Examples Licensed by Lexical Concepts (1)a. The relationship lasted a long time[duration] b. The time for a decision has come[moment] c. Her time [=death] has come[event] d. British Summer Time begins today[measurement-system] (2)a. The picture is over the sofa[above] b. The picture is over the hole[covering] c. The government handed over power[transfer] d. She has a strange power over me[control] (3)a. The plane/bird is flying (in the sky)[self-propelled aerodynamic motion] b. The pilot is flying the plane (in the sky) [operation by agent of entity capable of aerodynamic motion] c. The child is flying the kite (in the breeze)[control of lightweight entity by agent] d. The flag is flying (in the breeze)[suspension of lightweight object]

21 Cognitive Models Lexical concepts provide access to cognitive models Cognitive models are multi-modal knowledge structures, they are i) stable, yet ii) yet continuously updated (so not rigid), iii) they form the basis for categorisation judgements, and give rise to experiential simulations and conceptualisation (cf. Barsalou, Prinz, Zwaan, etc.). Lexical concepts, can, in conjunction with compositional processes, facilitate access routes through cognitive model profile: thus they provide semantic potential Cognitive models consist of: i) attributes (or facets), ii) relations (or structural invariants)


23 Meaning Construction Meaning construction involves the combination of lexical concepts These representations are integrated in service of providing a conception, a situated meaning which expresses a specific communicative intention associated with the speaker Meaning construction proceeds by virtue of two component processes: –i) Selection: of lexical concepts –ii) Fusion: integration and interpretation of lexical concepts

24 Selection and Fusion i) Selection: The process in which extra-linguistic and linguistic context ‘selects’ for a particular lexical concept associated with the specific forms which appear in an utterance. ex. She approached the bar (public house vs.court of law) ii) Fusion: The process whereby once selected, lexical concepts are integrated and interpreted, in the service of meaning-construction. Two component processes: i) integration John baked Sally a cake ii) interpretation red pen vs red squirrel

25 Access Access: a general process of interpretation, mediated by language, which serves to selectively activate part of the semantic potential (cognitive model profile), giving rise to an informational characterisation associated with a given lexical concept Two types of activation: –i) access route--across a number of cognitive models –ii) within a cognitive model--highlighting (e.g., access to a specific facet)

26 book reading tometextduration [book] Level of facets Level of cognitive models Level of lexical concepts reader level of interest a. That’s a heavy book to carry around in your school bag all day b. That antiquarian book is so old that it is illegible in places c. That book is really long d. That book is really boring

27 Metaphor and Metonymy Literal vs. figurative language: –metaphor and metonymy are distinct from ‘literal’ language in terms of the kind of ‘access’ they provide wrt encyclopaedic knowledge structures--primary vs. secondary cognitive models Metaphor vs. metonymy –They are distinct in terms of the compositional processes involved: Metonymy (selection + interpretation), metaphor (integration + interpretation) ex. Proust spent alot of time in bed vs. Proust is tough to read Mary is a pianist vs Mary is a lion Metaphor vs metonymy - Distinct in terms of communicative function: Metonymy-- referential (identification); metaphor--elaboration (‘aboutness’)

28 Access Phenomenon: Metonymy Meaning-construction employs activation of secondary cognitive models in order to achieve local communicative intentions Secondary access that results in ‘metonymy’ is due to an informational characteriation which avoids a clash in a lexical concept’s primary cognitive model profile of a given lexical concept, (1) Proust is tough to read (2) France rejected the EU constitution For this reason, this sort of secondary access involves a ‘shift in reference’


30 Access Phenomenon: Metaphor Secondary access that results in ‘metaphor’ is due to integration of lexical concepts such that the lexical concept which affords secondary access is interpreted as being ‘about’ another lexical concept, e.g., the ‘subject’. This ‘aboutness’ relation I also refer to as elaboration (see Evans 2004a). Metaphoric elaboration is a consequence of the lexical concept associated with the predicate clashing in its primary cognitive model profile with the primary cognitive model profile of the ‘subject’ (1)The time whizzed by (2) Achilles is a lion

31 Partial cognitive model profile for [rapid motion with noise] [rapid motion with noise] The time whizzed by physical entity(rapid) motion noise (lack of) perceptual access

32 Partial cognitive model profile for [lion] [lion] habitat diet/eating habits patterns of behaviour social grouping (Ascription of) bravery

33 Communicative Functions of Figurative Language The secondary access phenomenon involving elaboration (‘metaphor’) serves situated communicative intentions, e.g., a description, an evaluation etc. (Zinken et al. In press) The resulting conception is distinct from a ‘literal’ paraphrase (cf. Sperber and Wilson 1995), due to the access route (1) This room is a pigsty (2) Frankenfood (to describe GM produce) ‘Metonymy’ provides a contextually salient means of identifying a particular referent (3) The ham sandwich has wandering hands (one waitress to another)

34 What’s NOT Figurative Language Certain forms of elaboration, do not involve secondary access, and are therefore not metaphoric: (1) a long time [‘long’/EXTENDED DURATION] (2) a loud shirt [‘loud’/ ATTRACT INVOLUNTARY ATTENTION] (3) Shakespeare is in love [‘in’/STATE] Each of these examples involves lexical concepts which do not clash in their primary cognitive model profiles These lexical concepts, e.g., [ STATE ] lexical concept for ‘in’, have arisen through regular usage-based processes of semantic change (Traugott and Dasher, Tyler and Evans) Such patterns I term concept collocations: elaborations which provide a conventional conception

35 Where do systematicities come from? Exx. conceptualisation of time as motion through space: –Distinct lexical concepts cohere in semantic network profiles –Related concepts form part of same cognitive model profile, e.g., points of access in same ‘matrix’ –Concept collocations, e.g., The time whizzed by, give rise new lexical concepts, whizz by with a temporal representation, which can be applied to other temporal concepts: Christmas whizzed by this year

36 Comparison with CMT Advantages of this model: –i) Figurative language is a consequence of regular processes of meaning construction, thus a unified treatment of literal and figurative language –ii) Reformulate sub-symbolic knowledge structures, conceptual metaphors, in terms of encyclopaedic knowledge structures, cognitive models profiles, for which there is now widespread support, theoretically and empirically (e.g., Langacker, Barsalou, etc.) –iii) Treat figurative language as a function of situated language use, and thus integrate figurative language with a usage-based view of meaning-construction –iv) Metaphor and metonymy, on this account have specific communicative goals (e.g., Zinken et al)

37 Workshop Questions Q1: How does the theory explain connection between what people think & say? –‘Imagining for speaking’-conceptual resources specialised for encoding in language Q2: What does the theory impose on data analysis? –Usage-based data; context and communicative intentions are key; avoid artificial (expert- based) distinction, itself problematic, between ‘basic’ and ‘incongruous’ senses

38 Workshop question cont’d Q3: What does it disallow as evidence of figurative thinking? –Abstract concepts/domains not directly supported by linguistic evidence (as in CMT and primary metaphor theory) Q4: How does the approach identify issues in metaphor methodology? –Metaphor and metonymy identification, based on meaning-construction –Distinguish between metaphor (dynamic instances of figurative thought) and conventional patterns of language use

39 Summary Figurative language is not deviant with respect to literal language but makes use of the same processes of lexical representation and meaning construction I’ve presented a usage-based, encyclopaedic account of figurative language which treats metaphor and metonymy as resulting from differential access, wrt ‘literal’ language The distinction between metaphor and metonymy is due to the compositional processes of selection vs. integration The ‘old’ two-domain mapping model is oversimplistic and fails to account for context/communicative aspects A final Caveat: LCCM theory is programmatic, and awaits psycholinguistic (i.e., empirical) investigation

40 Articles: Lexical Concepts, Cognitive Models and Meaning- Construction. 2006. Cognitive Linguistics, 17/4, 491- 534. Figurative Language in a Cognitive Theory of Meaning Construction: A Lexical Concepts and Cognitive Models Approach. (with J ö rg Zinken). To appear in C. Makris and R. Chrisley (eds), Art, Body and Embodiement. Cambridge Scholars Press. Book: How Words Mean. In prep. and under contract to OUP.

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