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Title: Re:16.1810, Review: Philosophy of Lang/Semantics: Hase
Submitter: Fiona MacArthur
Description: I am not the author of the work reviewed in the Linguist List posting 16.1810, but would nevertheless like to open a discussion of the review and the work discussed. The following are my comments:

The review offered on LinguistList of Haser's Metaphor, Metonymy, and Experientialist Philosophy does less than justice to this book. If it is to be expected that among the purposes of such reviews are an assessment of the contribution of a work to a particular field of enquiry and an identification of its interest to a potential audience, then the reviewer has misrepresented the work on both counts. Rather than offering a critical evaluation of Haser's contribution to cognitive semantics (as the subtitle indicates, her aim is to "challenge" prevalent views), the reviewer appears to suggest that Haser simply repeats and accepts current views on metaphor and metonymy and their relationship with human understanding. This is reflected in the fact that only on one occasion in the whole review (in the Evaluation section) does the reviewer cite the author whose work she is discussing, while she makes direct and indirect reference at least fourteen times to authors such as Lakoff and Johnson, Radden and Kövecses or Grady. This might suggest that Haser's book would be a good work to offer undergraduates as an introduction to the field of cognitive semantics "a useful presentation of modern authors", as the author says at the end of the review. This misrepresents the contribution of Haser's book, ignoring the fact that some very important points are raised in her discussion of the relationship between experiential semantics and traditional Western philosophy, among other issues. For example, no mention is made in the review of Haser's alternative accounts of the distinction between metaphor and metonymy or the reasons why we find thematically related clusters of metaphorical expressions. Far from echoing the views of Lakoff and Johnson (1980), as the reviewer implies, Haser offers an explanation that has little if anything to do with conceptual metaphor theory.

Given that the springboard for many of Haser's arguments is the close attention she has paid to the founding texts of cognitive semantics (particularly the contradictions and misrepresentations she uncovers in these works), it is ironic that this author's own work should have been read with so little of the close attention it undoubtedly deserves. It is not necessary to agree or disagree with the author's views on metaphor and metonymy to recognise that her work provides a stimulating contribution to debate in this particular field of inquiry. However, the reviewer in question appears to be unaware of what this comprises (and indeed of developments in the field generally) and hence fails to adequately inform potential readers of what it is that the book offers and why linguists may or may not want to read it.
Date Posted: 13-Jun-2005
Linguistic Field(s): Philosophy of Language
Cognitive Science
LL Issue: 16.1856
Posted: 13-Jun-2005

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