Thursday, September 11, 2014

Johnson and Malgady: "Some Cognitive Aspects of Figurative Language" (1979)

The purpose of this paper is to map the correlations between a number of variables related to metaphor comprehension, such as the difficulty of understanding the metaphor and the similarity of the concepts it is constructed out of. The experiment and its results are them selves utterly forgettable, but the paper is a good source of references as well as a probe of the mood of the cognitive science of metaphor around 1979.

First some references:
About the last reference: Note that the the Polish-American linguist Uriel Weinrich (1926–1967) is distinct from the German classist, philogist, and literary scholar Harald Weinrich (born 1927). The latter also wrote a number of texts on metaphor ("Semantik der Metapher" and "Wieder die Bildstürmer"/"Against the iconoclasts"). I was myself confused about this for a while.

Now for some quotes.

In the introduction of the paper, the authors approvingly quote Bolinger as saying that metaphor should be covered by a good semantic theory, and they continue:
Others … have also suggested that metaphor and related figurative language use ought to be thought of as an intrinsic (perhaps central) part of language, and not something that can be dismissed by simply shunting it off to the poet's corner as a deviant curiosity—albeit an aesthetically satisfying one. (p. 250)
In the concluding discussion section:
The ubiquity of both metaphor and association (alluded to in the introduction and elsewhere) gives the impression that both must play a central role in everyday cognition—and that they both may be simply "symptoms" of a single underlying process. It is no more correct, therefore, to say that metaphor is simply similarity or simply association than it would be to say that association or similarity judgments are simply examples of metaphor. (p. 263)
And finally:
It is the flexibility of the relationship between words and categories, augmented by the linguistic device labeled "metaphor," that allows productivity in thinking. Perhaps the chief function of metaphor is to provide—by setting the stage for the perception of similarity between dissimilar words—a way of forming new categories. (p. 264)

No comments :

Post a Comment