sâmbătă, 10 iulie 2010

The Metaphor of Conceptual

"Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative."

Oscar Wilde

In the present (ever wondered what time span “present” actually re-presents?) of theoretic linguistic and aspiring “cognitive” and “empirical” research of the “metaphor” two new concepts have emerged: conceptual metaphor and metaphorical linguistic expression. To make the understanding (or otherwise called “mapping”) of these two concepts, two other conceptual metaphors have been used, and projected in two new metaphorical linguistic expressions: source domain and target domain. Are you still with me?

As a lot of you literates might know, the study of language (and therefore metaphors) is epistemically extremely dangerous, for the “method” is also the object … ergo, when we name two concepts “domains” in order to make “metaphors” more easy to understand, we could be loosing ourselves in the hope that we can objectively criticize language by using metaphors from cognitive theories, like domains, mapping and the “mind as machine – metaphor”.

And we hope we have reached a postmodern meta-level of understanding language, yet in my view, we are still in the “same old circles” (pardon the metaphor), if trying to create psychological complex definitions of meta-phenomenon. – now, just for your information – every word in this paragraph could be hermeneutically challenged, analyzed and criticized, because, of course – while trying to deconstruct the cognitive theory of the metaphor, I do not offer alternatives, making this a non-constructive critique … which is diplomatically unacceptable.

Truth is, I do not have yet a theory on metaphors. I am also afraid to assert one, because I am very individualistically orientated and think that every mind might have a different understanding, and yet no mind should be wrong about it.

What annoys me most is this academic pseudo-arrogance that sometimes the intellectual elite adopts, stating there is no doubt that they have discovered “the next truth” of human understanding.

To paint a hyper-realistic picture, I shall use an example from “Metaphor. A Practical Introduction”, 2nd Edition, by Zoltan Kovecses. He quotes the Pragglejaz group and their “metaphor identification procedure” (MIP):

1. Read the entire text-discourse to establish a general understanding of the meaning.

2. Determine the lexical units in the text-discourse:

3. (a) For each lexical unit in the text, establish its meaning in context, that is, how it applies to an entity, relation, or attribute in the situation evoked by the text (contextual meaning). Take into account what comes before and after the lexical unit.

(b) For each lexical unit, determine if it has a more basic contemporary meaning in other contexts than the one in the given context. For our purposes, basic meanings tend to be

• More concrete (what they evoke is easier to imagine, see, hear, feel, smell, and taste)

• Related to bodily action

• More precise (as opposed to vague)

• Historically older.

Basic meanings are not necessarily the most frequent meanings of the lexical unit.

(c) If the lexical unit has a more basic current-contemporary meaning in other contexts than the given context, decide whether the contextual meaning contrasts with the basic meaning but can be understood in comparison with it.

4. If yes, mark the lexical unit as metaphorical.

(Pragglejaz Group, 2007,p. 3)

… and dilemmata-arguments:

1. To establish a general understanding of the meaning? I mean, what is a “general understanding”? Won’t everybody understand something subjective based on his / her own personal experience, especially now, in “postmodernism”, where every “general meaning” is challenged even in non-academic circles? And what is "meaning" again in this cognitive theory of the metaphor? Mapping. Thus we should be generally mapping a meaning to the text? Cognition and the theory of the mind are complex as is. Why nurture complexity only to be able to write a next book and score a new publication?

2, 3(a, b) Each lexical unit means sort of … every word. From now on, political scientist should break down every discourse of the would-be leaders in every “lexical unit” and assign to each a context, and compare the context with other contexts. Good luck – might be good exercise for future sophistry.

And what again is “basic meaning”? Can one even talk about basic meaning in a multicultural world, saturated with sub-cultures and individualism, with neologisms and slang and scientific termini, with visions and philosophies a thousand … And “historically older” means nothing – just etymologic quests, for the “meaning” is really created inside a context of the moment, full with the emotions and feelings and recurring axiomatic thoughts of ones … ONES psyche. What the “other” means will be seldom understood in full epistemic depth. (And this is a subliminal – herewith not anymore – message to try and exercise a bit more “empathy”)

More concrete, more precise? “Postmodernism” could very well, in the view of this above mentioned theory, be/have a “basic meaning” … and yet how precise or concrete is “postmodernism”? Or do this “basic meanings” refer only to a certain kind of lexical units in a certain kind of non-context? Huh?

“If yes, mark the lexical unit as metaphorical.”

2 comentarii:

  1. hello,
    I still don't get it completely, and not really sure if i can. However, lexical unit is a metaphorical to a certain individual from certain sub-culture in a certain time or at lest this is what I think :)

  2. intrebarea mea retorica: ai clar conceptul de ESENTA in mintea ta contorsionata si supraflectata pseudocognitiv? mi se pare mie sau incerci sa faci si mai mare haos in haos? ai aici monolog sau dialog? pentru ca socrate-i demult putrezit iar la interactiunea pe care NU o vad dincolo de definitiile tale asomative e lesne de trasat linie si calculat: te cam rastesti la eter si-ti da cu rest la calcule. iar eterul nu da feedback (ca tot va plac neologizarile si alte limbi decat romana). cati prieteni reali ai si cati dintre ei NU sunt frustrati? ai citit "m-am decis sa fiu prost"? nu, nu e afront. complicarea nu e neaparat marca unei emfaze inteligente. iesi afara, opreste un copil pe strada si asculta-l. invata tacerea. lasa fandoseala. la finele zilei, cu fata in perna, nu te poti minti ca totu-i rece, sec, lipsit de culoare. si mai lasa naibii haosul. numai bine si simplitate, na! ;)