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Review of  Windows to the Mind

Reviewer: Chris Blankenship
Book Title: Windows to the Mind
Book Author: Sandra Handl Hans-Jörg Schmid
Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton
Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis
Cognitive Science
Issue Number: 22.3240

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EDITORS: Sandra Handl, Hans-Jörg Schmid
TITLE: Windows to the Mind
SUBTITLE: Metaphor, Metonymy and Conceptual Blending
SERIES TITLE: Cognitive Linguistics Research [CLR] 48
PUBLISHER: De Gruyter Mouton
YEAR: 2011

Chris Blankenship, Northern Illinois University

This collection originates predominantly from papers presented at the Second
International Conference of the German Cognitive Linguistics Association with
some additional, solicited chapters included as well. The twelve texts focus, as
the title indicates, on conceptual metaphor and metonymy theory and conceptual
blending/integration theory, providing a wide array of research areas and
methodologies within these frameworks. In establishing a general common ground,
the editors note that these articles ''all share the central idea that cognitive
approaches to the student of language open a window to how the human mind works
and is possibly influenced by available linguistic structures and choices'' (pp.
8-9). While the scope varies widely throughout the volume, all come back to this
central concept of exploring the explanatory potential of these cognitive
approaches while considering the possible limitations as well.

The book begins with a short introduction by the editors, providing a brief
history of conceptual metaphor and conceptual blending theories, including an
explanation for their combination of conceptual metaphor and metonymy into a
single area of research interest. The book's primary concern, however, is
addressing a ''certain lack of methodological rigour'' that has invited the most
justifiable criticism of both theories (p. 8). Many chapters take up these
issues of basic methodology and empirical foundations. They are organized into
three parts with four texts apiece that reflect the respective theories and
scopes of the projects. Parts I and II deal with metaphor and metonymy, though
in different ways. Part I contains papers that are more broadly theoretical,
where fundamental issues of the theory, such as basic methodology and general
metaphor structure, are investigated. The papers in Part II, on the other hand,
are more tightly focused, usage-based studies with the goal of applying
conceptual metaphor theory ''in the service of more superordinate aims'' (p. 11).
Part III shifts to the theory of conceptual blending in a more general way,
combining the emphases of fundamental investigations and data-driven studies
seen in the previous two sections.

The four papers in Part I focus on wider issues of theoretical support,
definition, and assessment within conceptual metaphor and metonymy. The first
chapter, “Methodological Issues in Conceptual Metaphor Theory” by Kövecses sets
the tone for the entire volume. Much as Handl and Schmid begin in the general
introduction, Kövecses contends with the criticism that conceptual metaphor
scholarship has been largely intuitive rather than data-driven. He defends this
type of research, arguing that data-driven approaches have largely upheld the
assertions of intuitive studies, and that these studies can also be performed
much more quickly, allowing for more knowledge to be accumulated, despite being
generally ''imprecise, incomplete, and vague'' (p. 25). Kövecses argues for a
combined approach, with intuitive studies accumulating knowledge quickly by
focusing on the regularities of cognition, while data-driven studies can
empirically test this knowledge and focus on the irregularities. In the second
chapter of this section, “The Structure of Metaphor and Idiom Semantics (A
Cognitive Approach),” Dobrovol'skij argues that the semantic analyzability, or
decomposability, of idioms, is based on the underlying metaphors of the
expressions. By looking at idioms such as ''to spill the beans'' and ''to let the
cat out of the bag'' gathered from natural data available on the Internet, he
determines that the constituents of idiomatic expressions can only be autonomous
if the underlying metaphoric structure ''homomorphically correlates with the
structure of the lexicalized meaning'' (p. 55). This conclusion not only has
implications for semantic analyzability of idioms, but also for the discursive
behavior of the expressions. The third chapter, “Why Focus on Target Domains?
The Importance of Domain Knowledge in Children’s Understanding of Metaphors,”
also focuses on metaphoric idiomatic expressions, investigating how children
develop the ability to understand them. Using experimental data from groups of
German-speaking five-, eight-, and ten-year-olds, specifically in the domains of
FEAR and ANGER, Glaznieks demonstrates that children younger than ten ''lack
relevant knowledge about emotions they may need to understand metaphorical
expressions in a proper way'' (p. 79). Through this, he concludes that, despite
what previous research may indicate, knowledge of source domains may be less
important to the development of metaphorical understanding than knowledge of the
target domains. In “Salience and the Conventionality of Metonymies,” Handl
concludes Part I by addressing the relative dearth of scholarship on how to
define and assess the conventionality of metonymic expressions. Using the
British National Corpus, she demonstrates that while only one criterion of the
conventionality of metaphorical expressions is cross-applicable with metonymy,
consideration of salience can compensate. Handl finds, however, that the rules
of ontological salience alone are inadequate and must be supplemented by what
she terms ''target-in-vehicle salience,'' a particular kind of attribute salience
that describes ''the degree to which target-related attributes are salient in the
vehicle concept'' (p. 10).

The four chapters in Part II are described as usage-based studies, most of which
apply conceptual metaphor theory in the analysis of various social exigencies.
The first of these analyses, “The Role of Metaphor Scenarios in Disease
Management Discourses: Foot and Mouth Disease and Avian Influenza,” is Nerlich's
investigation of how specific metaphors of disease influence reactions to
potential epidemics. Using a variety of news sources, Nerlich tracks the
discourse surrounding the outbreaks of foot and mouth disease and avian
influenza in the UK. Through a correlation of the relative proximity of the
disease and the rise and fall of certain metaphors (JOURNEY, INVASION, and WAR
primarily), she creates a schema of source-path-goal to describe the discursive
shifts in how both the media and policy-makers in the UK addressed these disease
management scenarios. In a similar study, “’Overt’ vs. ‘Covert’ Cultural
Variance in Metaphor Usage: ‘Europe’ vs. Malta and the EU-Membership Debate,”
Petrica uses a corpus of Maltese English-language newspapers between 2000 and
2008 to analyze metaphors in the discourse concerning the country's prospective
membership in the European Union. In her analysis, she identifies both overt and
covert variations in the usage of these metaphors by comparing the data from the
first corpus to those of German and British metaphors in the Eurometa-Corpus.
Overt variations are obvious differences, such as dominant countries using
metaphors of FAMILY or BUILDING whereas the less dominant use metaphors of
pressure or abuse. Covert metaphoric variations, by contrast, are either
metaphors with similar source domains linked to different target domains, or are
metaphors that seem identical at first, but are later found to have different
conceptual sources due to cultural differences. In the third chapter of this
section, “Examining Conceptual Metaphor Models through Lexical Frequency
Patterns: A Case Study of U.S. Presidential Speeches,” Ahrens echoes one of
Kövecses' assertions about intuitive conceptual metaphor studies by providing a
data-driven study of Lakoff's two cognitive models of political/moral systems,
the ''strict father model'' and the ''nurturant parent model'' from his book, Moral
Politics (2002). Using a corpus of 1066 speeches given by four American
presidents (Reagan through Bush Jr.), Ahrens provides lexical frequency and
collocation pattern analyses of lexemes linked to each of the two
political/moral models by source domain. While her findings do support Lakoff's
hypothesis, more importantly, she demonstrates a method of testing cognitive
models through narrowly focused corpora that avoids the circularity in models
based solely on conceptual metaphors. In the final chapter of this section,
“Metaphor, Constructional Ambiguity and the Causative Resultatives,” Hampe
combines metaphor theory and construction grammar in a corpus-based study of the
Caused-Motion Construction (CMC) and the Resultative Construction (RC). Using
the International Corpus of English-GB and a selection of the CHILDES database,
Hampe provides a collostructional analysis of these constructions and concludes
that both of the argument structures in question code for a wider range of
meanings, and that this extension makes ''metaphorical inheritance link[s] from
the CMC to the RC at the level of the fully schematic ASC'' unlikely (p. 206-7).
Additionally, Hampe's analysis brings to light another central verb class,
called here the attributive class, covering cognition verbs present in the RC
pattern. Through considering metaphorical polysemy links, Hampe concludes that a
differentiation of metaphorical links between these constructions exist on
different levels of generality.

The final section of this volume covers topics that make use of conceptual
blending theory. It begins with Schmid's chapter, “Conceptual Blending,
Relevance, and Novel N+N Compounds,” where he uses experimental data on novel
N+N compounds to test the predictive power of the conceptual blending theory.
Drawing from a body of data from a previously conducted study, Schmid finds that
the construction of N+N compounds use most of the vital relations and governing
principles of blending theory as outlined by Fauconnier and Turner, though some
vital relations did not appear in the data set, and a small number of conceptual
links not covered in the basic theory were also discovered. Through this
analysis, he finds that the general cognitive predictive power of blending
theory is confirmed and is in need of no major revisions. In following chapter,
“Blending and Creativity in Metaphorical Compounds: A Diachronic Investigation,”
Benczes provides a similar exploration of N+N compounds, though she focuses
specifically on two creative metaphorical compounds: ''sandwich generation'' and
''flame sandwich.'' Using blending theory, Benczes not only accounts for the
meanings of these two compounds individually, but also extends that analysis to
a succession of blending operations starting with the original concept of
''sandwich.'' This study confirms the feasibility of using blending theory to
analyze these typically semantically non-transparent compounds. The third
chapter in this section, “Reference Points in Adjective-Noun Conceptual
Integration Networks,” follows the problems associated with the assumption of
simple semantic compositionality. Here, Tribushinina investigates the emergent
properties in adjective-noun combinations, particularly those of color
adjectives, through the conceptual integration of two or more mental spaces. She
demonstrates through multiple examples from the British National Corpus that
color adjectives, even when constrained only to perceptual meanings, are context
dependent, and that ''the active zones of both the PROPERTY SPACE and the ENTITY
SPACE may change under a number of constraints'' (p. 287). Tribushinina also
demonstrates that these emergent structures may be pervasive in the entire
conceptual integration network rather than simply being confined to the blended
space. Because these constraints are not fixed points within the mental spaces,
the emergent structures are a series of complex links between the active zones
identified through multiple cognitive reference points. In the final chapter of
the book, “Conceptual Blending, Evaluation, and Common Ground: George W. Bush
and Saddam as Friend or Foe?” Kok and Bublitz approach the topics of common
ground and evaluation, particularly in American and British political discourse.
Much as several other authors in this volume have noted, conventional semantic
and grammatical analyses can only take interpretation so far, but Kok and
Bublitz add to this by including pragmatic theories as insufficient, as well.
Using two evaluative texts, a political joke from a US talk show and a 2003
quote from Tony Blair, they show how evaluation may not only rest upon ''stored,
stable mental domains and frames'' but equally upon ''ad hoc created transitory or
disposable mental spaces'' (p. 305). While Kok and Bublitz do acknowledge that
more empirical evidence is needed to prove their claim, they provide a
persuasive argument towards a cognitive approach being able to bridge the gap
between word and implication in evaluative statements.

The four papers in Part I provide a useful place to start for scholars
interested in conceptual metaphor and metonymy studies. By covering issues of
methodology, semantics, psycholinguistics, salience, and the bridge between
metaphor and metonymy within these few papers, both novice and experienced
scholars will find use from the scholarship. Additionally, the tone set by the
first paper concerning methodology and data-driven studies is nicely echoed by
the following articles, all of which make use of either experimental data or
corpora to provide interesting, empirical studies on issues that are fundamental
to conceptual metaphor/metonymy theory.

The usage-based contributions of Part II continue the trend of providing
data-driven, empirically rigorous studies using a framework of conceptual
metaphor theory; however, the breadth of the topics is not nearly as wide in
this section of the book. The first three texts here all focus, to varying
degrees, upon political discourse. Nerlich, Petrica, and Ahrens employ
conceptual and methodological intricacies that certainly make each contribution
distinctive without overlapping, while keeping a common theme and a common focus
on providing usage-based studies. As such, Hampe's contribution to the section
is conspicuous for its in-depth semantic and syntactic analysis outside of the
political discourse domain. It would have, perhaps, been more effective to
either provide a greater variety of topics among the articles in this section
(much like Part I) or to fully embrace the theme established by the first three
papers and simply rename the section.

The texts of Part III provide useful discussions concerning conceptual blending,
but many of the pieces read more like justifications of the power of the theory
than applications. Perhaps this is because blending theory is relatively new,
especially when placed side by side with articles making use of conceptual
metaphor theory. Despite this somewhat defensive tone, the articles in this
section provide compelling arguments about the merits of blending theory, ably
demonstrating how it can bridge gaps in our current understanding of word
formation, semantic structure, and evaluation. The only way this section might
have been stronger is if the trend of using wide arrays of data had continued on
from the previous sections. Aside from Schmid's piece, each of the studies in
this section used relatively small sets of data, albeit still usage-based.

Overall, this book is an admirable collection of works on two of the most
prominent theories in cognitive linguistics. The empirical, usage-based
approaches used in most of the articles provide excellent examples of how
conceptual investigations can move away from purely intuitive research. Aside
from perhaps one or two pieces, this collection is also quite accessible for
novices, making it a good choice for a graduate seminar on cognitive linguistics
while still being quite useful for experienced scholars who wish to keep abreast
of some of the most recent developments in the field.


Lakoff, G. (2002). Moral politics: How liberals and conservatives think.
Chicago: University of
Chicago Press.

Chris Blankenship is a doctoral candidate in English at Northern Illinois University and an instructor in the writing program at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. His research focuses on applications of conceptual metaphor theory, composition and rhetoric, and online discourse.

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