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Review of  Re-Viewing Space

Reviewer: Eduardo Urios-Aparisi
Book Title: Re-Viewing Space
Book Author: Rosario Caballero
Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton
Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis
Linguistic Theories
Issue Number: 22.2466

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AUTHOR: Rosario Caballero
TITLE: Re-viewing space
SUBTITLE: Figurative language in architects' assessment of built space
SERIES TITLE: Applications of Cognitive Linguistics 2
PUBLISHER: Mouton de Gruyter
YEAR: 2006

Eduardo Urios-Aparisi, Department of Modern and Classical Languages, University
of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, USA


Rosario Caballero's ''Re-viewing space: Figurative language in architects'
assessment of built space'' is an exhaustive and compelling study on how
conceptual metaphors structure the discourse of architecture reviews and are
creative rhetorical tools within this particular genre. Its goal is to study how
genre is a meaning-making activity in which metaphor plays a major role as a
structuring device. It further sheds light on issues of human cognition and
Conceptual Metaphor Theory. The author proposes that a framework integrating the
cognitive and communicative sides is necessary to understand metaphor. In the
following text we can see an example of the kind of metaphors analyzed in this
book: ''[the rooms] sit flush with the façade and fold open and back as necessary
when the rooms are occupied and used in different ways: 'the mute box suddenly
speaks of humanity''' [italicized in the original]. In this case, the adjective
''mute'' is used metaphorically. As Caballero suggests, ''here one of the buildings
in a university campus is evaluated by means of an expression playing with both
personification and visual information.'' The personification aspect is
reinforced by its immediate co-text and by association to other adjectives like
''blind,'' and it means ''solid, closed to the exterior'' (81). The visual
information accompanying this text has a particular role in helping to ''decide
that 'mute' refers to the building’s 'keeping its mouth shut' or lack of
openings, rather than to its ability to produce sound'' (81).

The book is divided into two general parts. The first part is preliminary, and
includes, after the introduction, chapter 2, an overview of architectural
discourse; chapter 3, a survey of literature on metaphor; and chapter 4, the
methodology used in the second part. The second part analyzes the texts by
focusing first on the metaphors that articulate the ideology of the building
reviews in chapter 5. In Chapter 6 the analysis focuses on the linguistic
realizations of those metaphors, while in Chapter 7, Caballero concludes her
discussion by summarizing the role metaphor plays in the architecture review genre.

The introduction explores the discourse of the architectural texts through the
pervasive presence of metaphors and their critical role in conveying the visual
experience of the building anatomy. In order to study the communicative and
cognitive roles of metaphor and define its functional role, Caballero integrates
the Conceptual Metaphor Theory paradigm with the Hallidayan metafunctions of
language. She argues that the discourse of architecture provides a systematic,
homogenous context shared by an identifiable discourse community ''characterized
by specific knowledge schemas, needs and interests'' (6). This approach allows
for predictability in the results and constraints in the data.

In chapter 2, architectural discourse is analyzed by focusing on its multimodal
features. Caballero concludes that this genre is essentially multimodal as it
involves more than one mode of communication, although, according to her, it
shows a tendency to use images to back up the claims and thus makes words
dependent on images. The author establishes the relationships between the
different types of visual representations (discipline-specific images like
sketches, scale drawings, diagrams, perspectives or photographs; cf. p. 12) and
the relationships between the different types of texts (captions, verbal
accounts, texts; cf. p. 15).

Figurative language in architectural discourse is used as a heuristic tool at
different stages of theory formation; it also has an important role in the
process of ''thinking a building'': metaphor contributes to the design as a
first-order design resource, and also as an evaluative stance. This evaluative
function will be especially important in the genre of architectural reviews,
which are generally illustrated with all kinds of images and addressed to a
specialized audience.

The architectural discourse also shares a set of metaphors to describe the
highly abstract concept of space. This discourse has been developed through a
tradition of writers and thinkers that go as far back as the Renaissance and the
concept of man as a measure of everything. As Caballero shows, the three domains
that have ''furnished the theoretical and critical apparatus of architecture''
(18) are: metaphors from the natural sciences which derive from the biological
theories of the XVIII and XIX centuries and that allude to the ''cultural 'topos'
of nature versus civilization'' (19); metaphors from linguistic description; and
metaphor from spatial mechanics. These metaphors form the subconscious framework
of the architects' culture. ''Notions of built space articulated by language,
biology or mechanistic metaphors are, then, part and parcel of architects'
disciplinary acculturation and, therefore, conventional and automatic within the
discipline'' (22).

Caballero distinguishes between metaphors that have fossilized and that are used
automatically to refer to different parts of the building like ''paunch'' and
those metaphors which are part of the generation of ideas and design of the
building. Those metaphors are ''mostly visually informed. That is, they draw upon
the external similarity of the object used as the generator of a given design
and the appearance of the eventual outcome'' (23).

The cognitive mechanism of an architect is the ''thinking eye'' (Oxman 2002),
which involves the process of a perceptual event that initiates ''reasoning with
the perceived stimuli of visual objects'' (23). The author also argues that the
increasing presence of perceptual metaphors is connected to the increasing
presence of images, and the development of technologies to improve the visual
quality of the graphics.

Chapter 3 presents the theoretical framework of conceptual metaphor theory.
Caballero defines the parameters of the integration of conceptual metaphor
theory and the framework of the approaches to discourse of the functional
paradigm developed by Halliday (1984). She also explores the literature on
metaphor within a discursive and communicative context. Metaphor is shown to
perform important roles at a cognitive level (encoding the writer’s worldview)
as well as at a textual level, as an evaluative and cohesive device and as
indices of intertextuality following Moon (1998).

Chapter 4 focuses on the corpus of architectural reviews from their rhetorical
structure in comparison with other kinds of reviews. Caballero defines them in
terms of their function, the audience and their multimodal quality. She also
analyzes the different classifications of metaphors and metaphor types and
addresses the debated topic of metaphor identification and how different
strategies need to be used. These include syntactic, semantic and also
rhetorical strategies; that is to say, how architects use metaphor ''for
communicative purposes'' (71). The second issue Caballero discusses is how, once
the data are collected, the cognitive mappings that underlie the metaphors are
identified. It is necessary to understand the community that uses the metaphors
in order to ''understand the different kinds of knowledge that underlie the
figurative construal of professional topics'' (73). The need for familiarity with
the topic is also relevant to her proposal of a classification of metaphor that
is flexible and dynamic as it is embedded in the practices and conventions of
this architectural genre. Metaphors are found in clusters in different sections
of the text; they are clustered in particular patterns and explicitly signaled.
Metaphors are located in ''the texts' rhetorical structure'' (85) and contribute
to the evaluative function of language (87). Perhaps one of the main
contributions of this book is the author’s discussion of image metaphors and
their importance for specialized discourses. The image metaphors are metaphors
in which ''the mapping involves mental images rather than concepts'' (73) and they
are motivated by resemblance. As is shown in chapter 5, the same image schemas
that motivate conceptual metaphor via correlation can be found in metaphors
motivated via resemblance.

In chapter 5 Caballero analyzes the instances of metaphors found in her corpus
of building reviews divided according to the source domains. She identifies
aspects of architectural processes and products instantiated by those metaphors.
In this context, Caballero finds two types. ''Process-focus metaphors'' shape
space into an artifact with its particular form and function (92ff.).
''Product-focused metaphors'' depict buildings according to their appearance,
functional and behavioral properties (107ff.). She takes this analysis further
and, following Goatly (1997), describes how the process of ''metaphor
diversification'' is used to conceptualize the same target by means of different
source domains. Her conclusions point towards two important issues regarding the
image metaphors in these texts. First, more than one image schema can be invoked
in the same text, as ''many sources can be explained as specific realizations of
three dimensional spatial configurations relying on the 'bounded region' and
'surface' image schemas'' (125). Secondly, the ''metonymic selection of certain
features characterizing the entities involved in the mapping (and standing for
those traits in the final linguistic expression)'' plays an important role. So,
for instance, in example 102 (p. 124) a building is referred to as a ''lozenge.''
The underlying process of this mapping is twofold: first, it maps only the
overall shape (part) over the entity (whole) and the ''lozenge'' mapping is on the
basis of their perceived similarity; secondly, the whole entity (lozenge) can be
used to refer to the building as it stands for the trait. Finally, as mentioned
earlier, the motivation for metaphorical mapping is based on resemblance, but
grounded in correlational knowledge of image schemas which provide the structure
and constraints of higher level metaphors.

Chapter 6 focuses on the study of the linguistic instantiations of metaphorical
mappings. Caballero delves into the four realizations of metaphor in order of
frequency: nominal, verbal, adjectival and adverbial metaphors. She studies each
of these realizations and their patterns establishing how these patterns
determine the role of metaphor at clause and sentence levels. In nominal
constructions, the patterns follow the word collocation. In verbal instances,
she focuses on how ''fictive motion constructions in architectural discourse
convey information about what spatial ensembles look like, highlighting
particular aspects of that appearance or of their immediate context'' (163). The
adjectives are differentiated among the ''visually motivated adjectives'' and
adjectives defining abstract qualities. Finally the few adverbial realizations
endow the buildings with animated features. These metaphors appear in patterns
that include repetition, multivalency, diversification, extension and mixing
(Goatly 1997). Of those patterns, the ones which, according to Caballero, are
found in her corpus are ''repetition, diversification, extension, and
compounding'' (173).

Chapter 7 deals with the topic from a discourse perspective. Caballero
establishes the links between the communicative needs of the architect and the
demands of the discourse context of the architectural review. The metaphorically
motivated jargon is situated in clusters in certain sections of the text
connected with the descriptive purposes of the genres. Metaphorical language
creates textual cohesion through the use of the patterns which were introduced
in the previous chapter. Caballero also connects the use of metaphorical
language as a face-saving strategy due to a double function. On the one hand,
image metaphors may seem more subjective and less categorical. On the other
hand, the ''less graphic metaphorical language'' is apparently objective in its
absence of authorial identification and lack of validation when images are
absent in the reviews.


The discussion in this book is a paradigmatic example of depth and thoroughness.
It shows how the Conceptual Metaphor Theory paradigms applied to a specific
corpus shed light on the classification of metaphors and their relations, but
also on the issues regarding metaphors in all their aspects: their linguistic
representations, the different components and domains involved in the
metaphorical mapping, and how they are situated within this discourse. To this
extent, it is a major addition to the series of monographs on metaphor in
different contexts such as Goatly (1997), Cameron (2003), Charteris-Black
(2004), Koller (2004), and Musolff (2004). It is also in line with other studies
on the application of metaphor to corpora and discourse such as Deignan (2005),
Semino (2008), and Pragglejaz Group (2007).

Caballero's research illuminates especially the concept of image metaphor and
how image schemas also motivate their originality and creativity. In the context
of space-body-architectural design, this connection is particularly meaningful
since the creative intention of the architect is greatly based on these three
elements. In this case, Oxman's view of the ''thinking eye'' as the cognitive
mechanism of an architect (Oxman 1995 and 2002) and the amodal concept of
cognition suggested by Talmy (2000) could be understood from another point of
view. As in other similar creative processes such as painting, the architect's
work could be considered the result of intermodal sense relations and rather
than the ''thinking eye'' the creative process involves the whole body. Within the
haptic conception, the architect's cognitive style can be defined as ''the
thinking hand'' (cf. Pallasmaa 2001, 2005, 2009). This view proposes how the
interaction of the senses integrated in the architect's creative process could
also account for the multimodal experience motivated by the interaction of the
architect with his or her space.

According to Caballero, metaphor is a culturally specific, discourse-bound
cognitive phenomenon. The textual dimension of metaphor mapping identifies the
motivations of metaphorical choice and the patterns of use of the linguistic
resources by studying the grammatical form, location and density within the
text. As a systematic and comprehensive book, it is a major contribution to the
paradigms of the theory of Conceptual Metaphor within the parameters of a
specific genre.


Cameron, Lynne J. (2003). Metaphor in Educational Discourse. Continuum: London.

Charteris-Black, Jonathan (2004). Corpus Approaches to Critical Metaphor
Analysis. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Deignan, Alice (2005). Metaphor and Corpus Linguistics. John Benjamins: Amsterdam.

Koller, Veronika (2004). Metaphor and Gender in Business Media Discourse: A
critical cognitive study. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Goatly, Andrew (1997). The Language of Metaphors. Routledge: London.

Halliday, Michael A.K. (1984). Language as Social Semiotic: The Social
Interpretation of Language and Meaning. Edward Arnold, London.

Moon, Rosamund. (1998). Fixed Expressions and Idioms in English: A corpus-based
approach. New York/Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Musolff, Andreas (2004). Metaphor and Political Discourse: Analogical reasoning
in debates about Europe. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Oxman, Rivka (1995). ''The reflective eye: Visual reasoning in design''. Eds. A.
Koutamanis, H. Timmermans, and I. Vermeulen, Visual Databases in Architecture.
Aldershot: Avebury, 89-111.

Oxman, Rivka (2002). ''The Thinking Eye: Visual Re-Cognition in Design
Emergence''. Design Studies, 23:2: 135-164.

Pallasmaa, Juhani (2001). The Architecture of Image: Existential Space in
Cinema. Rakennustieto: Helsinki.

Pallasmaa, Juhani (2005). The Eyes of the Skin. Great Britain, Wiley and Sons.

Pallasmaa, Juhani (2009). Thinking hand: Existential and embodied wisdom in
architecture. Chichester, U.K.: Wiley.

Pragglejaz Group (2007). ''A practical and flexible method for identifying
metaphorically used words in discourse.'' Metaphor and Symbol 22 (1), 1-39.

Semino, Elena (2008). Metaphor in Discourse. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.

Talmy, Leonard (2000). Toward a cognitive semantics. v. 1 and 2. Cambridge, MA:
MIT Press.

Eduardo Urios-Aparisi is Associate Professor in the department of Modern and Classical Languages at the University of Connecticut. His main research interests are applications of the theory of conceptual metaphor to advertising, cinema and painting.

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