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LINGUIST List 23.2737

Thu Jun 14 2012

Diss: Cognitive Science: Tincheva: 'The SOURCE-PATH-GOAL image schema in political speeches'

Editor for this issue: Xiyan Wang <xiyanlinguistlist.org>

Date: 14-Jun-2012
From: Nelly Tincheva <nelitinchyahoo.com>
Subject: The SOURCE-PATH-GOAL image schema in political speeches
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Institution: University of Sofia
Program: Classical and Modern Philology
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2006

Author: Nelly Tincheva

Dissertation Title: The SOURCE-PATH-GOAL image schema in political speeches

Linguistic Field(s): Cognitive Science

Dissertation Director:
Prof Maya Pencheva

Dissertation Abstract:

The investigation proves that it is not only 'lower-level' language
structures and discourse as a process that are susceptible to inquiries
based on cognitive constructs. Approaching whole texts (in this case
political speeches) from a cognitive-construct perspective also proves to
be well-founded. The gestalt nature of textual entities, the results of the
present inquiry verify, is governed by particular cognitive constructs (the
SOURCE-PATH-GOAL image schema) which are possible to isolate and determine

The hypothesis postulated here suggests metaphoric transfer to be the
mechanism allowing image schemas to function as the structural elements
which control the operation of whole-text cognitive constructs and
superstructural networks as gestalts. Therefore, the central objective of
the thesis focuses on political speeches as a category shared by all or
most of the participants in a communicative situation/ members of a
culture. The results obtained prove that it is possible to distinguish
default elements from perceptual variables and determine the basic
cognitive construct structure by incorporating salient slots into a
(significantly) stable cognitive construct.

Such a text-type cognitive construct can be seen as characterized by a
high-degree of generality of detail, which leads to variability in the
cognitive construct instantiations. While 'online' superstructure
gravitates toward the variability aspect of the text-type construct, the
prototypical text-type cognitive construct, e.g. the political speech
cognitive construct, is what organizes the whole mental representation of a
text into a complete entity. All analytical angles employed support
unambiguously both the hypothesis as well as the theoretical model
proposed. The POLITICAL SPEECH cognitive construct and, consequently, the
prototypical POLITICAL SPEECH superstructural progression, are both
conclusively proved to be governed by the SOURCE-PATH-GOAL image schema,
which, when applied to the domain of politics, results in an IS-STEPS-DS
construct as follows:

(a) INITIAL STATE (containing slots: leader, led, issue, time, space),
(b) STEPS (containing slots: leader, led, (sequence of) activities, time,
(c) DESIRED STATE (containing slots: leader, led, (absence of) issue, time,

To distinguish political speeches from other text-types, the hypothesized
POLITICAL SPEECH cognitive construct relies on the possibility for a second
metaphoric mapping of the same schema to take place - an assumption which
the results reported here confirm. The POLITICAL SPEECH cognitive construct
basic structure is proved to be a three-part one and it is so organized as
to evoke perception of WALKING along a PATH.

That PATH is the perceived connection between the current political STATE
and a future one. To trigger such an interpretation, the slot
configurations of IS, STEPS and DS borrow structure from yet another domain
which employs the domain of movement as a source. This proves to be the
real world-domain of POLITICS, which the SOURCE-PATH-GOAL schema
simultaneously controls. Hence the double mapping of the same image schema
in political speeches. However, political speeches cannot be distinguished
from other text-types solely on the basis of this structural specificity.
The mapping operates simultaneously with mechanisms of overlapping between
textual world, discourse world, and real world constructs in political
speeches. It is the combination between the three which characterizes them
as a text-type.

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