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Review of  COGNITIVE MODELS IN LANGUAGE AND THOUGHT


Reviewer: Zouhair Maalej
Book Title: COGNITIVE MODELS IN LANGUAGE AND THOUGHT
Book Author: René Dirven Roslyn M. Frank Martin Pütz
Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton
Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics
Cognitive Science
Book Announcement: 14.3047

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Review:
Dirven, René, Roslyn Frank and Martin Pütz, eds. (2003) Cognitive
Models in Language and Thought: Ideology, Metaphors and Meanings,
Mouton de Gruyter, Cognitive Linguistics Research 24.

Announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/14/14-1976.html


Zouhair Maalej, Department of English, University of Manouba-Tunis,
Tunisia

PURPOSE AND CONTENTS

The book under review is a collective volume structured around four
themes and including eleven papers by scholars of varied background
but all attracted to the cognitive linguistic paradigm and its
workings. The collection emanates from the 29th International LAUD
Symposium held at the University of Koblenz-Landau, Landau, Germany
(2002). The overview will follow a paper-by-paper technique.

(i) Cognitive models of linguistic variation

''Cultural models of linguistic standardization'' by Dirk Geeraerts
(pp. 25-68)

The main argument of Geeraerts is that there are two cultural models
that shape our thinking about language and its origin, namely, the
rationalist and the romantic models. The rationalist model of language
standardization is characterized by geographic, social, and thematic
generality, which make a standard language a neutral, participatory,
and emancipative medium of communication, verging on nationalism. The
romantic model, however, sees a standard language as an instrument of
oppression and exclusion, with schools as a means of reproducing
social inequality and exclusion. The distrust of standardization also
comes from the fact that a standard language does not allow for the
expression of identity and emotions. Although the two models have very
little in common, we are told, yet they do interact.

''How to do things with allophones: Linguistic stereotypes as
cognitive reference points in social cognition'' by Gitte Kristiansen
(pp. 69-120)

Kristiansen explains allophonic variation by linking it to linguistic
stereotyping, social categorization, and social cognition.

(ii) Cognitive models and cultural/social identities

''Shifting identities in Basque and Western cultural models of Self
and Being'' by Roslyn M. Frank (pp. 123-157)

Discussing the Great Chain Metaphor presented by Lakoff and Turner
(1989), Frank shows through examples from Basque how the European
cultural model of self and being is not similar to the Basque's. The
European model is said to be reshaped from the dichotomy of mind/body
to embodiment as unity of body and mind (Varela et al, 1991) and as a
way of putting the mind back into the body (Johnson, 1987).

''Language and ideology in Nigerian cartoons'' by Oyinkan Medubi (pp.
159-197)

Having in mind ideology, Mdubi applies Turner and Fauconnier's
blending theory to the study of metaphor and metonymy in a set of
Nigerian political cartoons. The metaphors studied have to do with
alignment, power, resistance, and deception. Mdubi argues that
ideology is more powerfully apparent with metaphoric structures than
with metonymies.

''Three mandates for anti-minority policy expressed in U.S. public
discourse metaphors'' by Otto Santa Ana (pp. 199-227)

Working on a corpus of newspaper articles on immigration and
affirmative action within the contemporary cognitive metaphor theory
and critical discourse analysis, Santa Ana discusses metaphors of
social exclusion of Latinos in contemporary American political
discourse. Overall, Santa Ana isolates the following conceptual
metaphors: IMMIGRANTS AS ANIMALS, IMMIGRATION AS DANGEROUS WATERS,
RACISM AS CANCER, AFFIRMATIVE ACTION AS CURE/REMEDY.

''Has the consciousness of modern industrial societies rendered
'housewife' no longer a value-free cultural model'' by Lewis Sego (pp.
229-243)

Sego studies the evolution that the concept/model of housewife has
undergone through time, although it has never been value-free.

(iii) Cognitive models as covert ideologies

''Conceptual metaphor as ideological stylistic means: An exemplary
analysis'' by Hans-Georg Wolf and Frank Polzenhagen (pp. 247-275)

Through a study of a newspaper article on US-Japan bi- lateral trade
relations, Wolf and Polzenhagen show how conceptual metaphor can
function as a global stylistic ideological pattern, providing
coherence for the seemingly disparate linguistic metaphors on the
surface of discourse. The ideological dimension of conceptual metaphor
is said to lie in the fact that metaphor allows construal of a given
event in alternative manners, thus highlighting and hiding at
different occasions different sub-events. To show ideology in action,
Wolf and Polzenhagen compare the American conceptualization of
US-Japan trade relations with that of the Japanese.

''Metaphor and ideology in the press coverage of telecom corporate
consolidations'' by Michael White and Honesto Herrera (pp. 277-323)

White and Herrera study the ideological dimensions of conceptual
metaphors that govern telecom talk in the English and Spanish press.
They isolated a set of conceptual metaphors governing corporate
takeovers and alliances (COMPANIES ARE DINOSAURS, BUSINESS IS WAR,
MERGERS ARE MARRIAGES). They (p. 286) explain that the conceptual
metaphor, MONOPOLIES ARE DINOSAURS, functions also metonymically
thanks to ''the saliency of the characteristic of failure to
survive,'' where this failure to survive functions as a metonym for
the dinosaur (i.e., if my understanding is correct, a part-whole
relation).

(iv) Cognitive models in covert social debates

'Ideological functions of metaphor: The conceptual metaphors of health
and illness in public discourse'' by Andreas Musolff (pp. 327-352)

Musolff investigated the ideological dimension of conceptual metaphors
in the British and German press coverage of EU politics. Sclerosis and
heart diseases are found to dominate the British conception of Europe,
while birth and child metaphors about the euro are said to be
frequently used in Germany. Musolff shows that specifically in the
case of Germany we witness a sort of negotiation of the euro as birth
ICM between politicians and the media, which results in rejections,
corrections, refinements, reinterpretations, and eventual acceptance
of the metaphor in public debates.

''Genetic roulette: On the cognitive rhetoric of biorisk'' by Craig
Hamilton (pp. 353-393)

Basing his study on cognitive rhetoric, Hamilton deals with the
discourse of genetically modified food through ads presented by the
Turning Point Project and the TV program ''Harvest of Fear'' (PBS,
USA) aimed at the American public to raise their awareness about
modified food consumption. Ideology seems to be functioning in two
ways through conceptual categorization: fitting categories in the
right category (natural product) for environmental groups such as
Turning Point Project, or in the wrong category (modified product) for
the defenders of biotechnology.

''Deciphering the human genome: The semantic and ideological
foundations of genetic and genomic discourse'' by Brigitte Nerlich and
Robert Dingwall (pp. 395-428)

Nerlich and Dingwall the discourse surrounding the human genome
project/DNA, realizing that the code (information theory) and word
(religion) metaphors are tapped in, despite the disappearance of the
former from linguistic talk about human communication. Analyzing
Clinton's political speech about the genomic discoveries and a speech
by a scientist, Nerlich and Dingwall argue that the former aimed at
''selling scientific progress to the public'', whereas the latter's
scientific position aimed at politically ''shoring up this message''
(p. 409). Clinton was shown to have managed to sell his genome
ideology even to religious fundamentalists in the US by including in
his science-as-a-journey metaphor a marvel at God's creative powers.
Blair's approach was more cautious by pointing to ethical issues of
misuse of genomic knowledge by humanity.

CRITICAL EVALUATION

The collection of papers under review is an interesting read from at
least two perspectives:

(i) the variety of target domains for papers dealing with metaphor.
Indeed, the range of domains spans over the areas of racism, politics,
economics, health, genomics, etc.

(ii) the variety of angles from which ideology is approached:
linguistic, linguistic-stylistic, social, political, etc.

The collection shows papers of unequal quality, focus, and interest.
The first two papers on cognitive models by Geeraerts and Kristiansen
argue for the place of cognitive models, respectively, in linguistic
standardization and stereotyping in social cognition. What they have
managed to do is link studies of dialectology to language, cognition,
and thought. Sego's paper is the shortest, and does not succeed in
driving its point home about ideology in the concept of ''housewife.''

Many of the papers in this collection have the merit of taking us off
the beaten tracks of the theoretical issues within conceptual metaphor
and blending. Although theory is important, conceptual metaphor theory
needs to be taken a step further into practical matters by analyzing
its relevance to and incidence on our life, namely, ideology in
thought and language. As far as my knowledge goes, the contemporary
cognitive metaphor theory has devoted little space to socio-pragmatic
and cognitive-pragmatic functions of conceptual metaphor (Maalej,
2003) such as persuasion, which has been explicitly touched upon by
Hamilton under cognitive rhetoric, and only assumed in other papers.

An interesting contribution of the book is the ideological role that
conceptual metaphor covertly and overtly plays. Medubi and Santa Ana,
for instance, show the link between conceptual metaphor and ideology
as social, economic, and political exclusion. Wolf and Polzenhagen
present another kind of metaphor and ideology fusion through
style. They succeeded through a study of two texts in showing how
lexical configuration together with the notion of construal can drive
ideology home. Musolff seems to rely more on the entailments of the
conceptual metaphors used as a basis for ideology.

Hamilton sees ideology as working through a manipulation of categories
via what I prefer to call re-categorizing them for the occasion.
Although Lakoff and Johnson (1999: 18) claim that ''we cannot make
massive changes in our category systems through conscious acts of re-
categorization (though, through experience in the world, our
categories are subject to unconscious reshaping and partial change),''
I believe that in political, promotional, media discourses, etc.,
re-categorizing may be seen as a deliberate/conscious strategy to
re-arrange the cultural categories for particular ideological
purposes. As Lakoff and Johnson (1999: 208) rightly argue, CHANGING
THE CATEGORY OF AN ENTITY IS CHANGING THE ENTITY by re-locating it
into a different category, and that the reality of re- categorization
is that ''it can change or put pressure for change on what is
recategorized.'' By far, Geeraerts was the most explicit one about
ideology, spelling it out anthropologically as a manipulation or
re-categorization of cultural models as ideology.

However, apart from Geeraerts's conception, ideology is documented
through definitions, but is not shown at work in practice. For
instance, both White and Herrera and Musolff have talked about
ideology without so much showing how conceptual metaphor carries or
articulates ideology. Although they refer to various conceptions of
ideology and stereotypes in the literature, White and Herrera do not
show clearly how metaphor and ideology interact. Musolff and Seto in
particular do not make it clear which conception of ideology as
carried by or embedded in metaphor they are working with.

Another concern in the many papers that dealt with metaphor and
ideology is the critical discourse analytical framework, which has
been at times explicitly spelt out, at others only assumed as relevant
to a study of discourse and ideology. Thus, the framework emerging
from the collection is mostly a combination of conceptual metaphor and
blending on the one hand, and critical discourse analysis on the
other, which is the familiar ground of the investigation of
ideology. A good example of this combination is shown in Santa
Ana. Although Fairclough and van Dijk have been mentioned by many as
two leading figures within critical discourse analysis, van Dijk for
papers dealing in politics and conceptual metaphor would have been an
important backing.

A comment will be made about Kristiansen and Frank's papers before
ending this review. Although s/he uses an impressive battery of
sources of knowledge, Kristiansen heavily overquotes: there is almost
no page where there is no extensively large quote. Frank, on the other
hand, uses lengthy footnotes that can extend over two pages, which
slightly hampers the flow of the reading process.

In order not to give an impression that I would not like to give about
this interesting book, I think that it is one of the very few books
using cognitive linguistics as represented by two of its important
trends, the conceptual metaphor theory and conceptual blending, in
dealing with corpora and practical matters such as cognitive models,
cultural models, ideology, and persuasion. Therefore, I strongly
believe that it is of interest to linguists concerned with socio-
cultural issues and how they are articulated through linguistic and
conceptual means.

REFERENCES

Fairclough, Norman (1989) Language and Power. London and New York:
Longman.

Johnson, Mark (1987) The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of
Meaning, Imagination, and Reason. Chicago/London: The University of
Chicago Press.

Lakoff, George & Mark Turner (1989) More than Cool Reason: A Field
Guide to Poetic Metaphor. Chicago/London: The University of Chicago
Press.

Lakoff, George & Mark Johnson (1999) Philosophy in the Flesh: The
Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought. New York: Basic
Books.

Maalej, Zouhair (2003). ''Conceptual metaphor as persuasion in
consumer advertising: A cross-cultural account.'' Paper read to the
5th International Conference on Researching and Applying Metaphor
(RAAM V): Metaphor, Categorization and Abstraction: A
Multidisciplinary Approach. Université Paris 13, France, 3-6
September 2003. To be submitted to Metaphor and Symbol.

van Dijk, Teun A. (1997). ''Political discourse and political
cognition.'' Congress on Political Discourse, Aston University, July
1997.

Varela, Francisco J, Evan Thompson & Eleanor Rosch (1991). The
Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience. Cambridge:
Mass.: The MIT Press.
 
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
The reviewer is an assistant professor of linguistics. His interests include cognitive linguistics, metaphor, cognitive pragmatics, psycholinguistics, critical discourse analysis, etc. He spent a Fulbright scholarship at the Department of Linguistics, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque (2002-2003) writing a book on the contemporary cognitive metaphor theory, with special reference to Arabic(forthcoming).

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