LINGUIST List 18.241|
Wed Jan 24 2007
Review: Cognitive Science: Ruiz de Mendoza Ibáñez; Peña Cervel (2005)
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Message 1: Cognitive Linguistics
From: Annalisa Biacchi <annalisa.baicchiunipv.it>
Subject: Cognitive Linguistics
Announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/16/16-3621.html
AUTHOR: Ruiz de Mendoza Ibañez, Francisco José & Peña Cervel, Maria Sandra
TITLE: Cognitive Linguistics.
SUBTITLE: Internal Dynamics and Interdisciplinary Interaction.
SERIES: Cognitive Linguistics Research, 32.
PUBLISHER: Mouton de Gruyter
Reviewer: Annalisa Baicchi, Department of Linguistics, University of Pavia,
The book under review ''Cognitive Linguistics, Internal Dynamics and
Interdisciplinary Interaction'' edited by Francisco Ruiz de Mendoza and
Sandra Peña, the 32nd release in the Cognitive Linguistics Research Series,
does justice to its title since it offers detailed and multifaceted
accounts of how the theoretical framework of Cognitive Linguistics (hence
CL) gathers intra- and interdisciplinary evidence which shed light onto the
centrality of the cognitive commitment in current research.
The selection of papers collected in the volume is based on the editors'
aim to testify ''to the great tolerance of Cognitive Linguistics towards
internal variety and towards external interaction with major linguistic
discipline and subdisciplines'' (p.1). To pursue such an aim the editors
have collected plenary and key lectures delivered at the 8th International
Cognitive Linguistics Conference, which took place in Spain in July 2003 at
the University of La Rioja under the meaningful title ''Cognitive
Linguistics, Functionalism, Discourse Studies: Common Ground and New
Directions''. That CL shares common grounds with Functionalism has been well
accepted in the scientific community since the inception of the cognitive
paradigm in the early eighties. Both frameworks plant their objects of
inquiry on language use and both investigate the relationship between
language functions and grammatical structures, doing so by resorting to
extra-linguistic factors to give evidence to their linguistic analyses. The
rationale behind these shared interests and methods has led Langacker
(1998: 1) to claim that the ''movement called cognitive linguistics belongs
to the functionalist tradition''. Similarly to Functionalism, CL stems from
a strong polemical opposition to Chomskyan linguistics and, denying the
existence of a mind-independent reality, sees language as ''part of the
human cognition which operates in interaction with and on the basis of
other cognitive faculties [...] such as bodily and mental experience, image
schemas, perception, attention, memory, viewing frames, categorisation,
abstract thought, emotion, reasoning inferencing, etc.'' (Dirven, this
volume, p.17). From such a perspective, Cognitive Sciences have provided
cognitive linguists with guiding principles for their detailed
understandings of the mental processes underlying language phenomena. All
in all, the first two kinds of interdisciplinary connections featuring CL
can be envisaged in Cognitive Sciences on the one side and Functionalism on
the other. Nowadays, Cognitive Linguistics is recognised as an outstanding
theoretical paradigm of Linguistics that interfaces more and more often
with sub-disciplines of Linguistics (hence its Internal Dynamics hinted at
in the book's subtitle) as well as with neighbouring disciplines (hence its
Interdisciplinary Interaction). The book under review perfectly sums up
these two dimensions offering to its readers insightful contributions
exemplifying how the paradigm of CL is able to shed fresh light onto
manifold areas of inquiry.
In their introduction to the volume (''Introduction: as strong as its
foundation, as wide as its scope''), the editors Ruiz de Mendoza and Peña
Cervel set the stage by placing the focus upon the 'unity in divergence'
characterising CL, a theoretical framework which, since its inception, has
been concerned with interdisciplinary issues, first in connection to
cognitive sciences and artificial intelligence, and then to other main
approaches to language investigation, such as semantics, pragmatics,
discourse studies, and sociolinguistics. The edited volume thus shows how
CL has undergone a process of dynamic co-evolution with neighbouring
disciplines, as its various ramifications may well witness.
The volume collects eleven contributions in a four-section structure, with
each session devoted to a specific relationship that Cognitive Linguistics
holds with disciplines like Functionalism, Sociolinguistics,
Psycholinguistics, and Discourse Studies.
Section 1. Variety in unity: Cognitive-Functional Linguistics and different
routes within CL
The section opens with an insightful paper by René Dirven aiming to survey
''Major Strands in Cognitive Linguistics''. The topic of this paper was
delivered as the opening plenary lecture at the first International
Conference in Cognitive Linguistics ''Modelling Thought and Constructing
Meaning. Cognitive Models in Interaction'' held in Italy in 2003 and
published in Baicchi et al. (2005). Among the various internal
ramifications within CL, Dirven brilliantly discusses some orientations
that go from psycholinguistics, discourse studies, sociolinguistics,
grammaticalisation theory, cognitive phonology, cognitive poetics, and
cognitive applied linguistics. More specifically, Dirven discusses five of
the major strands:
(1) A gestalt-psychology-based strand, scouted out by Talmy in a series of
papers since 1975 and collected as Talmy 2000. The Strand was worked out in
great detail as Cognitive Grammar by Langacker, and applied to diverse
grammatical areas by scholars such as Lindner, Achard, Brugman, Rice,
Smith, Deane, Kemmer, Taylor, Verhagen. Cognitive Grammar is based upon the
idea that large areas of grammar are non-compositional, but gestalt-like
patterns or constructions. The view that 'constructions' are meaningful
chunks of language is systematically held and explored in Construction
Grammar by cognitive linguists such as Goldberg, Michaelis, Croft, and by
near-cognitivists such as Fillmore, Kay, Michaelis & Sag.
(2) A phenomenology-based strand, especially inspired by Merleau-Ponty's
research and generally referred to as Cognitive Semantics, illustrated from
the point of view of the history of science as in Geeraerts and applied to
Cognitive Metaphor Theory as in Lakoff & Johnson (1980).
(3) A discourse strand is explored as Discourse Coherence Theory in Europe
by a research group around Noordman, with Ted Sanders, José Sanders, Maes,
Spooren, and in America as Mental Space Theory as Conceptual Blending
Theory by Fauconnier & Turner (1994, 1996), Fauconnier, Oakley, and
Coulson, who also claims the primacy of cultural dimensions in language
(4) A sociolinguistic strand, initiated by Geeraerts, Grondelaers and
Bakema (1994), uncovers cultural models and relates them explicitly to a
given cultural background. Recently, the description of socio-cognitive
cultural models proposes models such as the rationalist vs. romantic models
of standard language and dialects (Geeraerts 2003), the social
categorization model based on allophonic variation (Kristiansen 2003), the
Basque vs. Western world models (Frank & Susperregi 2001).
(5) A psycholinguistics strand, aiming to find evidence for or against the
psychological reality of theoretical constructs of Cognitive Linguistics,
sees Gibbs as one of its main representatives. Gibbs carries out diverse
experiments on image schemas, figurative-language processing, and blending
theory. Working on data from language acquisition, Rice (2003) shows that
polysemous senses of words and connections between them in radial networks
are not supported by child language data and therefore questionable
constructs. Bowerman emphasizes important differences in the way the
notions of support and containment are linguistically expressed in Dutch,
English, Spanish, and Korean. She takes this diversity as evidence against
the pre-linguistic image schemas of containment and support advocated by
Mandler. Vandeloise claims that linguistic diversity is not incompatible
with pre-linguistic concepts having a role in the acquisition of language.
Jan Nuyts addresses the relationship between CL and Functionalism in a
thought-provoking paper – Brother in arms? On the relations between
Cognitive and Functional Linguistics – which, by discussing the cognitive
structure of 'tense-aspect-modality' marking poses the question on how to
deal with such phenomenon in language in a cognitively and functionally
oriented theoretical model of language. The discussion specifically focuses
on the status of a system of 'layered representation' of qualificational
categories, arguing for a 'division of labor' between a level of conceptual
representation and processing, and levels of linguistic (including
linguistic-semantic) representation and processing. Nuyts also offers
insightful considerations regarding the nature of representations and
processes at these different levels. The specific issue is meant to reflect
on the more basic, metatheoretical issue of the relations between cognitive
linguistics and more traditional approaches within the field of functional
linguistics. The differences Nuyts grasps between CL and Functionalism
''appear to be a matter of taking largely complementary perspectives on or
of focusing on different dimensions of the complex and multifaceted
phenomenon of language'' (p.96). A complementary perspective is the one
which requires linguists to investigate linguistic structures and processes
not only from an empirical standpoint, but also taking into serious account
the conceptual level and its interplay with the linguistic system as a
whole. This procedure would lead functional and cognitive linguists to
share their perspectives across their borders. Such a communication would
result in a mutual benefit for the two theoretical paradigms, which would
allow for a ''coordinated and coherent joint attempt to tackle complexities
of language as a cognitive system for communication'' (p.97).
It is tremendously illuminating to read Ronald Langacker's chapter. The
author tackles the problematic area within CL where an agreement on the
nature of grammar is far from being reached. In his ''Construction Grammars:
cognitive, radical, and less so'', Langacker compares three different
formulations of 'Construction Grammars' – Croft's Radical Construction
Grammar (2001), Goldberg's Construction Grammar (1995), and his own
Cognitive Grammar (1987, 1991) with the aim of surfacing main core
discrepancies among the three competing models. The label 'Construction
Grammars' is taken as a cover term for those schools of thought which stick
to the foundational issue that lexicon and grammar are not to be viewed as
a bipolar set but as a continuum, whereby grammar consists of an inventory
of constructions, defined as form-meaning pairings, which include lexical
specifications. The comparison among the three models is carried out by
relying upon three crucial aspects: the putative autonomy of syntax, some
basic grammatical constructs, and the relation between grammar and lexicon.
After illustrating the two notions of weak autonomy (grammar does not
emerge from meaning), which is generally accepted by Functional and
Cognitive Linguistics, and strong autonomy (grammar is distinct from
lexicon and semantics and requires its set of primitives), which is usually
rejected, Langacker contrasts his own model of Cognitive Grammar with the
two competing ones. Whereas Langacker conceives of grammar as a symbolic
structure that resides in the pairings between a semantic structure and a
phonological structure, Croft's and Goldberg's models conceive of grammar
as a symbolic structure which, besides phonology and semantics, include
grammatical form. The point of divergence at this stage of discussion
revolves around what is meant by form. In Langacker's model, the form part
in a form-meaning pairing points to the phonological structure, along with,
he adds, other symbolizing media like writing and gesture. Conversely, in
the other two models, the ''form part'' in a form-meaning pairing includes
grammatical form. This is not a trivial point since the issue involves
directly the very nature of grammar and its relation to meanings. Such an
issue seems at the current stage of research to be far from reaching a
point of agreement, and Langacker's chapter is an excellent contribution
which helps to clarify the central issue of grammar in CL.
Section 2. A usage-based Cognitive Linguistics
The second section hosts two papers on the relationship that CL establishes
with Sociolinguistics: Dirk Geeraerts's Lectal variation and empirical data
in Cognitive Linguistics, and Enrique Bernardez's Social Cognition:
variation, language, and culture in a cognitive linguistic typology. Both
contributions place the focus upon the emerging interest among cognitive
linguists in the empirical evidence which should support their theoretical
assumptions. Sociolinguistics, being the area of investigation in which
assumptions follows from usage-based observation, lends itself perfectly to
give evidence of the benefit that CL can receive from empirical research
Dirk Geeraerts' twofold aim in his tremendously brilliant chapter is
addressed to show that, for CL to turn towards empirical methodology, it is
necessary to incorporate within its range of investigation the issue of
social variation, where scientific inquiry unavoidably requires an
observational approach through the use of spontaneous, non-elicited
language behaviour retrieved from large-scale textual corpora. Empirical
methodology has become a standard requirement which is generally accepted
and applied in today's enquiry. Moving from this observation, Geeraerts
devotes the first part of his chapter to a recent volume by Esa Itkonen
(2003), whereby the author, discusses the epistemology of linguistics and
explains his firm opinion, supported by years dedicated to research, that a
socially-oriented study of language should be planted not on empirical
observation but on intuition. This approach resembles the Chomskyan
reliance on introspective judgements, with the main difference being that
Chomsky relied upon a psychological conception of language, while Itkonen
relies upon a social one. But, as Geeraerts clearly argues, if language is,
as Itkonen himself suggests, a system of social norms, how can it be
studied without embracing an empirical methodology? That this methodology
is not only desirable but already utilised is shown by the work of some
cognitive linguists who have offered high quality research through the
adoption of quantitative, empirical methodology. In the field of social
variation, which is the core issue of the chapter, it is worth mentioning
the lexicological work by Geeraerts, Grondalaers & Bakema 1994, Speelman,
Grondalaers & Geeraerts 2003, Kristiansen 2003, and Berthele 2004. The
strength of Geeraerts' argumentation pervades also the second part of his
chapter, where the author, moving from an epistemological standpoint,
points to the benefit that CL has derived from Sociolinguistics and the
interplay between the two disciplines has naturally developed into the
well-attested area of Cognitive Sociolinguistics, which can find an area of
convergence in the investigation of the interplay between individual and
social norms. The author lists three main developments in CL which show a
concern in sociolinguistics: (1) an interest in cultural models,
represented in Holland & Quinn 1987; Dirven, Frank & Pütz 2003; (2) a
strand of research on language attitudes exemplified in the works by
Berthele and Geeraerts; (3) a focus on the social nature of language, as
shown in Sinha 1999, Zlatev 2001, Harder 2003.
In his challenging chapter Enrique Bernárdez claims that the study of
linguistic typology should permeate CL in all its branches of research
since only the inquiry of phenomena from a cross-linguistic and
cross-cultural typological perspective can enhance the identification,
description and explanation of cognitively universal principles and
processes. By logical extension, Bernárdez supports also the recourse to a
socio-cognitive approach, for it is human activity as a whole that
influences cognitive processes. The author gives sound evidence of his
claims through a detailed discussion on the relationship between languages
and cognition, since the forms of expression in English are too deeply
culturally co-determined, as is the case in any other language, to limit
investigation on cognitive processes to only one language. Such
observation, already made by Enfield & Wierzbicka (2002:2) with reference
to the study of emotive language, is cited by Bernárdez who extends its
validity to other areas of linguistic analysis like grammar, and alerts on
the using of English as a tertium comparationis in language research, since
English proves a typologically 'rare' language. The need is therefore
suggested for a neutral tertium comparationis, whereby the notion of
invariant gives validity to CL inquiry on cognitive processes. On the other
side, linguistic typology should take into account not only and not simply
linguistic forms, but also their use and usage, which are on a par with any
other forms of cognitive activity.
Section 3. A mental-process-oriented Cognitive Linguistics
Stimulating and enriching as anything written by Raymond W. Gibbs Jr., this
section opens with a most insightful chapter, Embodied action in thought
and language, which is representative of one of the main concerns within
CL, i.e. the inextricable connection between thought and language. In the
first part of his chapter, Gibbs provides his readers with a detailed
discussion on Embodied Cognition, demonstrating how much of our knowledge
takes shape through bodily experience, a perspective that enriches those
studies within CL which assume bodily experience to contribute to our
conceptual representations in the form of image-schematic thinking. As is
well known, CL is a theoretical framework which stems from the foundation
principle that language is not an autonomous faculty of our mind, but it is
closely interwoven with cognition. In the past fifty years, a strong debate
on the nature of meaning has brought to the fore the question whether
meaning is ''outside the self'' waiting for a mind to grasp it and to store
it independently of human experience (Objectivist Realism), or it is a
derivative of human experience (Embodied Realism). According to the
Objectivist Paradigm, which claims the existence of a mind-independent
reality and of an autonomous linguistic module which processes meaning, it
is the task of an algorithmically computational mind to collect the data of
human experience, to dissect it mechanically, and to store it taxonomically
in terms of elemental semantic blocks. The 'autonomy' commitment of such a
mathematics-fashioned perspective has progressively received decreasing
appeal and reliability since the eighties when the study of mind in the
field of cognitive science (Pollio et al. 1977; Lakoff & Johnson 1980;
Johnson-Laird 1988; Kelso 1995; Gibbs 2005) demonstrated that language is
not ''a self-contained system amenable to algorithmic characterization, with
sufficient autonomy to be studied in essential isolation from broader
cognitive concerns'' (Langacker 1991); rather, the Embodied Paradigm sees
language and thought as highly structured and bound to the physical
experience of the self, hence the label 'Embodiment'. Gibbs devotes the
second part of his excellent chapter to the description of three
psycholinguistic experiments which clearly demonstrate the close
correlation between real and imagined bodily actions when they are elicited
by the understanding process of metaphorical language. Gibbs clearly shows
and explains how human beings make sense of and comprehend metaphorical
expressions during the accomplishment of embodied simulation.
Continuing to focus on mental processing in CL, Francisco Ruiz de Mendoza
and Sandra Peña (the volume's editors) devote their insightful contribution
to the issue of Conceptual integration, cognitive operation, and projection
spaces. The chapter develops previous work by Ruiz de Mendoza (1998), where
he discussed and implemented Fauconnier's blending theory (1985). Blending
theory and Metaphor theory (Lakoff 1987) share many phenomena in their
investigation on conceptualization, metaphor and metonymy included, with
the basic difference that Blending proposes a theory of meaning
construction, whereas Metaphor offers a theory of meaning representation.
According to Fauconnier (1985), mental spaces allow for the representation
of linguistic and encyclopaedic knowledge frames. They are ''constructs
distinct from linguistic structures but built up in any discourse according
to the guidelines provided by the linguistic expressions'' (Fauconnier
1985:16), that is, temporary conceptual packets in the working memory where
the linguistic expression and the correlated encyclopaedic knowledge are
stored for the purpose of performing cognitive operations (Fauconnier 1985,
1994; Fauconnier & Turner 1996). The mappings between mental spaces are
part of the organization of thought and the networks of mental spaces give
rise to the operation of Conceptual Integration. In other words, mental
spaces map onto each other and blend onto new spaces. It is exactly on
these conceptual integration networks that the online construction of
meaning occurs. According to Fauconnier, the basic scenario of Conceptual
Integration operates on two Input Mental Spaces - roughly corresponding to
source and target domains in Lakoff & Johnson's (1980) Metaphor Theory -
which map onto each other. The cross-space mapping is constructed in a
third space, called the Generic Space, which collects more schematic
structure common to the two Input Spaces. The fourth space, called the
Blend, arises from the two Inputs through the operation of a selective
projection, and develops an Emergent Structure, which contains new elements
of its own which are absent in the Input Spaces. The issue of emergent
structure is one of the main points of weakness that Ruiz de Mendoza & Peña
indicate in Fauconnier's model. Emergent structure would give rise to
potential irregularities in the mapping process, with the most relevant one
being the existence of asymmetries and non-correspondences between source
and target. With the aim of offering alternative analyses of some
well-known Fauconnier & Turner's examples of metaphor and of showing the
inexistence of the above mentioned irregularities, Ruiz de Mendoza (1996;
1998) puts forward the hypothesis - Combined Input Hypothesis (CIH) - that
the understanding of metaphorical expressions entails the activation of
multiple source inputs that, once integrated together and projected onto
one single Combined Source Input, provide correlations with the elements of
the metaphorical target (see also Ruiz de Mendoza & Diez 2002). The CIH
retains much of Fauconnier & Turner's model as for the notion of mental
space, the correlational structure between source and target inputs, and
the notions of integration and projection. However, it presents a number of
advantages. It substitutes the blend with a projection space, which is the
outcome of a cognitive activity and, differently from Fauconnier's model,
not the creator of it, a fact that would be counter-intuitive and in total
disagreement with the principle of cognitive economy. The notion of
projection space resembles the other spaces since it is not a dynamic
construct, but it is not the same as the other input spaces ''in that it
does not supply information but receives and combines it'' ( p.277).
Projection spaces can then become inputs for further cognitive activity.
Another strength of Ruiz de Mendoza and Peña's CIH is that the authors
claim that the outcome of projection is seen as clearly regulated by a set
of dynamic cognitive-pragmatic operations (correlation and contrast,
expansion and reduction, completion or saturation, mitigation,
strengthening, and counterfactual operations) which are used to draw
inferences on the basis of linguistic expressions and their context.
Section 4. A discourse-oriented Cognitive Linguistics
The last section of the volume takes into account the interplay between CL
and Discourse Studies.
Gerard Steen illustrates and discusses his on-going research on a
theoretical category that he labels the 'basic discourse act'. Similar to
utterances as generally defined in linguistics, basic discourse acts are
comparable to verbal acts and, as such, entail production and
comprehension; furthermore, they are conceptualized through recourse to a
discourse-psychological perspective. They allow language users to break a
text into segments, which is an operation facilitating cognitive
processing. 'Basic discourse acts' can be described as the association of
four autonomous levels of representation: an illocutionary act, a
proposition, a clause, and an intonation unit in the spoken mode or a
punctuation unit in the written mode. Although the four levels may operate
simultaneously, they are independent of each other, as is the case, for
example, with propositions or clauses, which are independent from
intonation units; or clauses, which are independent from propositions.
Steen then proceeds by putting forward the typical basic discourse act,
which is defined according to the following values: the conceptual
dimension has the value of a proposition: the material dimension has the
value of an intonation or punctuation unit; the linguistic dimension has
the value of a clause; the communicative dimension has the value of an
illocutionary act. One of the main advantages of Steen's fine-grained model
is that it includes in the representational configuration those
psychological and pragmatic features which had been hinted at by Langacker
2001, an approach that Steen himself deems perfectly compatible with his
own proposal. Langacker claimed that an utterance is representative of a
bipolar model composed of a schematic form on the one pole, and of meaning
associations on the other. Steen's model goes a step forward and, besides
recognising the multifaceted essence of linguistic forms, it introduces the
pragmatic and psychological aspects of processing, which are always at work
in any production/comprehension task, as in the tradition of Levelt 1989
and Clark 1996.
With a focus on the multileveled operation of metonymy in grammar and
discourse, Antonio Barcelona presents and discusses the results of some
case studies which have led him to show how metonymy and metonymic chains
function in authentic texts. In the first part of his very detailed
chapter, Barcelona expands on the pervasiveness of metonymy and on his own
notion of metonymicity. The standard notion of metonymy in CL embraces a
number of phenomena: referential metonymies for individuals, referential
metonymies with non-individual targets, non-referential metonymies, and
less common/more peripheral uses of metonymies. All these types are grouped
by Barcelona under a higher order kind of metonymy which allows the capture
of all the different facets of the same phenomenon under a unified
schematic notion of metonymy. As Barcelona (2002:246) puts it, ''a metonymy
is a mapping of a cognitive domain, the source, onto another domain, the
target. Source and target are in the same functional domain and are linked
by a pragmatic function, so that the target is mentally activated''. In the
second part of his chapter, Barcelona goes into detail with a fine-grained
analysis of five authentic texts, which, offered in the Appendix to the
chapter, comprise a brief conversation, a joke, the initial sentence of a
narrative-descriptive text, and a long dialogue from a play. With reference
to the applied methodology, Barcelona has followed a series of analytical
steps at both levels of meaning and form at each rank of the linguistic
organization, from morpheme to sentence. The detailed analyses conducted
confirm the ubiquity of metonymy in grammar and discourse. One of the main
insights offered by the author is the sound demonstration that instances of
metonymy are present at each level of the linguistic hierarchy and at the
more comprehensive level of conceptualization. From the perspective of the
unfolding of discourse, metonymies have been shown to tend to chain
together regularly within the same utterance scope and in the text at the
same or different analytical level. Furthermore, metonymic chains, which
have been shown to discourse-pragmatic inferencing, are respondent to
patterns regulated by criteria of function, directness and crossing of
analytical levels. This aspect is deemed as the fundamental function of
The previous contribution borders on the focus of Klaus-Uwe Panther's very
dense and insightful chapter, where the author scrutinizes ''The role of
conceptual metonymy in meaning construction''. In the same vein as
Barcelona, Panther points to the pervasiveness of conceptual metonymy in
the lexicon, grammar, language use, and conceptual structure, and focuses
on the relationship between conceptual metonymy and inferential pragmatics.
Panther defines metonymy as a contingent relationship between a source
meaning and a target meaning, or, better, ''a process of meaning
elaboration, i.e. expansion of a given source content into a more elaborate
target content that contains the source content as one of its components''
(p.356). The clear advantage of such a view is that, during online meaning
construction, only those subframes needed for the recognition of the target
meaning in a specific context are necessary, which is an operation
complying with the principle of least cognitive effort. A further point of
discussion Panther faces is the so-called view of metonymy as a
'substitution' operation - a 'stand-for' relation – that, the author
underlines, leads to assume a neat difference between metonymy and
pragmatic implicature, whereby an implicature involves an addition of
content. According to Panther, neither substitution nor addition are
crucial criteria for metonymy, but rather ''the degree of conceptual
prominence of the target meaning'' (p.357). Metonymies are then classified
as ''natural inference schemas'' which guide pragmatic inferencing in meaning
construction both in instances of explicature and implicature (see also
previous studies by Panther & Thornburg 1997, 2003). Under this respect,
metonymy configures as an economic automatic means readily accessible by
language users in their drawing inferences. Since inferential reasoning is
mostly a subconscious process, Panther points to the uselessness of
discriminating between inferencing and spreading activation. With this
claim in mind, Panther goes further and, after discussing the limits of
some modern theories on inferential pragmatics (Levinson 1995, 2000; Horn
1984; Sperber & Wilson 1995, 2002; Jackendoff 1991, 2000) underlines the
difficulty faced by any theory to constrain inferential meaning to a group
of abstract meta-principles based on Gricean maxims or on Relevance Theory,
which allows the avoidance of overgeneralization. Panther then indicates an
intermediate level which should be at the same time abstract and specific
enough so as to guarantee actual reasoning to the most plausible
interpretation. Such level the author envisages in conceptual metonymies,
which he defines as ''multipurpose conceptual devices'' in which relations
are not limited to language but are utilized by any other semiotic system
and thought. In the second part of his thought-provoking chapter, Panther
illustrates three pragmatic types of metonymy: besides the generally
recognised referential function of metonymy, whereby a metonymy triggers a
referential shift in speech acts, Panther advances two other pragmatic
functions played by metonymy: predicational, when a metonymic shift
triggers an inference; and illocutionary, whereby an attribute of a speech
act stands for the whole speech act (see also Panther & Thornburg 1998,
2003). Finally, Panther argues that it is the target concept that is
conceptually prominent in prototypical metonymies, which is thus available
for further elaboration in discourse. The chapter closes with a detailed
proposal for a hierarchical structure of metonymies from more generic, or
higher-level, to more specific, or lower-level, metonymies, and the
hierarchy of EFFECT-FOR-CAUSE metonymy is exemplified.
The final chapter of the volume hosts Brigitte Nerlich's contribution which
explores the Tracking the fate of the metaphor 'silent spring' in British
environmental discourse. The metaphor 'silent spring' dates back to the
1962 bestseller by Rachel Carston alerting scientists about the risks to
humans and the environment of the indiscriminate use of pesticides. After
discussing the meaning of the metaphor 'silent spring' in past and present
contexts, Nerlich analyses its argumentative and rhetorical uses in British
broadsheets and scientific journals in three types of debates: pesticides
and their threads to humans, cattle and birds; genetically-modified crops;
foot and mouth disease. After her very detailed discussion, the author
draws to the conclusion that metaphors ''are not static entities, but
dynamic phenomena that adapt to the discursive needs of those who use them
and to the socio-political circumstances in which they are used'' (p.404).
Over time new nuances of meanings are added to metaphors, which is an
interesting process which enhances a clearer understanding of semantic
change and polysemy. This is the case illustrated by Nerlich, who traces
the path followed by the metaphor under scrutiny, 'silent spring', which,
since its first appearance as a book title, has developed and dissociated
from the book and has become productive (e.g. 'nuclear winter', or 'killing
fields'), but has retained its link to the original book. This leads
Nerlich to make a most interesting hypothesis in favour of what she labels
''evolutionary ecology of metaphor''. This notion is borrowed from the field
of study which observes how organisms adapt and co-evolve with the
environment they live in (Gibson 1979). Similarly, Nerlich claims,
metaphors could be studied by taking into account their contextual uses and
verify how they change and develop in their interaction and complementarity
with textual and cultural events and with other metaphors. Over time
different interpretations of a same metaphor – as has been clearly shown by
the author in her punctual analysis of 'silent spring' – can become
productive, dissociate from their source meaning, and develop into new
interpretations, which, however, never loose their evolutionary links to
their original coinage. In her valuable chapter, Nerlich paves the way for
a new and productive path worthy of being followed in the field of metaphor
My review cannot do justice to the wealth of scholarship shown in this
insightful book. Each chapter is of tremendous scope and significant depth,
and all together they shape a book whose importance extends beyond the
truth-value of its specific issues under scrutiny.
It can be claimed without fear of exaggeration that this volume is of
extremely high scientific value for, at least, a twofold reason: on the one
hand, I hope my succinct description of the contents of each chapter gives
a cogent idea of the variety of phenomena dealt with in the four sections
of the volume and of their in-depth lines of argumentation; on the other
hand, each chapter contributes to gather the multifaceted intra- and
inter-relationships that Cognitive Linguistics holds with neighbouring
approaches to language, thus playing to the readers' advantage since it
provides them with a unified picture of the cognitive commitment in
All in all, this is an impressive, ''must read'' volume that would be
appealing to anyone interested in the exploration of fields as varied as
theoretical linguistics, cognition, discourse studies, psychology,
pragmatics, sociolinguistics, which makes the volume particularly
attractive to those scholars from different persuasions who are interested
in the relevant connection between CL and other theoretical frameworks. It
represents a successful effort at multi-disciplinarity and offers, in a
complementary fashion, a rich overview of the many threads of discussion on
core issues of the current debate in Linguistics. This book is an excellent
contribution in terms of the multiple explanatory ways and eclectic variety
of perspectives it takes to shed light upon the panoramic state-of-the-art
account of research in Cognitive Linguistics, which, to put it with the
editors, is ''as strong as its foundations, as wide as its scope''. This book
is a goldmine.
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thought. Ideology, metaphors and meaning. Berlin, Mouton de Gruyter.
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ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Annalisa Baicchi is Associate Professor of English and English Linguistics
at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics of the University
of Pavia (Italy). Her research interests cover the fields of English
Linguistics, Cognitive Semantics, and Pragmatics. At present, she teaches
several graduate and post-graduate courses on Semantics, EAP, English
Linguistics, and Cognitive Translation Studies.
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