Monthly Archives: December 2011

Windows to the mind

Windows to the mind: Metaphor, metonymy and conceptual blending. Ed. by Sandra Handl and Hans-Jörg Schmid. (Cognitive linguistics research 48.) Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton, 2011. Pp. ix, 314. ISBN 9783110238181. $150 (Hb).

Reviewed by Zhen-qiang Fan, Zhejiang Gongshang University

This book includes articles presented at the Second International Conference of the German Cognitive Linguistics Association held in October, 2006, with some articles later solicited. Drawing on three key theories in cognitive semantics—conceptual metaphor theory, conceptual metonymy theory, and conceptual blending theory—the articles in this book address the dialectical relationship between language and cognition. That is, the former can serve as a window to the latter while the latter can explain the structure and use of the former.

This book begins with an introduction, followed by three parts (‘Metaphor and metonymy: Fundamental issues’, ‘Metaphor and metonymy: Usage-based investigations’, and ‘Conceptual Blending’), each containing four articles, and ends with an index. In their introduction, Sandra Handl and Hans-Jörg Schmid introduce some essential background knowledge of metaphor, metonymy, and conceptual blending, and offer a preview of the articles in the volume.

Part 1 begins with an article by Zoltán Kövecses, in which he defends conceptual metaphor theory by meeting three challenges pertaining to methodological issues. He suggests that different approaches should complement each other and neither one alone can solve such complex phenomenon as metaphor. Dmitrij Dobrovol’skij examines the semantic analyzability of idioms and their discursive behavior, demonstrating how cognitive studies can contribute to description of the semantics and syntax of idioms. Aivars Glaznieks’ experiment shows that, contrary to what cognitive linguistics would predict, participants show little reliance on source domains in the acquisition and comprehension of metaphors. With a corpus study, Sandra Handl complements ontology-based theories by incorporating attribute salience to account for the conventionality of metonymy.

Based on naturally occurring data in corpora, the articles in Part 2 investigate metaphors used in specific discourses or language structure. Brigitte Nerlich scrutinizes metaphor scenarios in print media in the United Kingdom and illustrates their effectiveness for strategic purposes in disease management discourses. Monica Petrica presents a close comparison of Maltese and German discourse in the European Union, stressing the important role of culture in discursive metaphors. Focusing on United States presidential speeches, Kathleen Ahrens puts forward a method for identifying and testing metaphorical cognitive models through an analysis of lexical frequency patterns in small well-defined corpora. Beate Hampe explains causative resultatives with reference to metaphor and construction grammar.

The first article in Part 3 of the book, by Hans-Jörg Schmid, tests the predictions made by conceptual blending theory concerning the understanding of novel compounds. It argues for utilizing a simplified version of optimal relevance from cognitive pragmatics to refine the relevance principle, which is unspecified in Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner’s model. Through an in-depth analysis of ‘sandwich generation’ and ‘flame sandwich’, Réka Benczes demonstrates the advantage and suitability of blending theory for the analysis of metaphorical compounds. Explanatory power can also be seen in Elena Tribushinina’s article: she accounts for noun modification by predicting adjectives. Finally, Siaohui Kok and Wolfram Bublitz employ conceptual blending theory to explain the pragmatic notions of evaluation/stance and common ground, demonstrating the cross-fertilization of cognitive linguistics and pragmatics.

Salience: Multidisciplinary perspectives

Salience: Multidisciplinary perspectives on its function in discourse. Ed. by Christian ChiarcosBerry Claus, and Michael Grabski. (Trends in linguistics. Studies and monographs 227.) Munich: De Gruyter Mouton, 2011. Pp. vi, 282. ISBN 9783110240726. $150 (Hb).

Reviewed by Fan Zhen-qiang, Zhejiang Gongshang University

This volume includes articles presented at the sixth International Workshop on Multidisciplinary Approaches to Discourse in Chorin, Germany, in 2005, whose theme was salience in discourse. The collection begins with the editors’ introduction, which sets the scene for the chapters that follow by providing state of the art research and a snapshot of the following chapters.

Focusing on salience of discourse entities, Part 1 begins with Olga Krasavina’s study, which addresses the connection between salience demonstratives in Russian. Using corpus and experimental methods, she discovers that the former plays a limited role in the discursive use of the latter. Andrey Y. Filchenko analyzes certain grammatical constructions in an indigenous language in North Siberia, stressing that discourse salience is gradient, dynamic, and sensitive to cultural context. Through corpus analysis, Ralph L. Rose examines the influence of syntactic and semantic factors on pronominal reference and suggests that the combination of both syntactic and semantic information will result in greater predictive power for the salience of discourse referents. Part 1 concludes with Christian Chiarcos’s introduction of the mental salience framework, a salience-based computational framework for the context-adequate generation of referring expressions in discourse. On this basis, the author proposes a parameterized framework as architecture for handling cognitive-pragmatic mechanisms of attention control in discourse.

Part 2 contains two chapters extending salience beyond entities in discourse (to discourse relations or rhetorical relations) with evidence from crosslinguistic comparison and from diachronic language change, respectively. By comparing coordination markers in Norwegian, German, and English, Wiebke Ramm challenges the universality of discourse relations and demonstrates that the linguistic manifestations of salience are varied and display crosslinguistic variation. Drawing on a corpus of Old High German, Roland Hinterhölzl and Svetlana Petrova reveal that in the earliest development of German, verb placement was governed by and sensitive to salient-related pragmatic factors as well as discourse-structural factors.

The three contributions in Part 3 address extra-linguistic salience. John D. Kelleher’s article proposes a framework for reference resolution in visually situated dialogs, exploiting a weighted integration of both linguistic and visual salience scores to rank the potential referents located in the multimodal situation. Building on centering theory, Birgitta Bexten puts forward a model for a sufficient description of plurilinear hypertext, integrating not only linguistic salience but also non-linguistic paratextually marked salience. Finally, with empirical support, Berry Claus presents a simulation approach to text comprehension and its implications for non-linguistic salience. This approach claims that language comprehension is achieved by mentally simulating what is being described in a text; thus, in this approach, which entities are being simulated and how they are recaptured in the simulation will affect the salience of referents.

Produced by scholars with a wide range of research backgrounds, the articles in this book represent multidisciplinary and multidimensional research on salience in discourse or beyond discourse to include non-linguistic aspects.

Defining metonymy in cognitive linguistics

Defining metonymy in cognitive linguistics: Towards a consensus view. Ed. by Réka Benczes, Antonio Barcelona, and Francisco José Ruiz de Mendoza Ibáñez. (Human cognitive processing 28.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2011. Pp. viii, 284. ISBN 9789027223821. $135 (Hb).

Reviewed by Fan Zhen-qiang, Zhejiang Gongshang University

This book contains papers presented at a theme session of the tenth International Cognitive Linguistics Conference (Cracow, Poland, 2007), with some additionally solicited articles from leading metonymy experts. Tackling essential issues of metonymy and with original approach, the book focuses on ‘(i) delimiting the notion of metonymy…, (ii) clarifying the points of divergence between the various contributors with respect to this notion, and (iii) suggesting a consensus view which will hopefully have reverberations in both the Cognitive Linguistics community and the linguistics community at large’ (3).

Following an introduction by the editors, which provides the background, aim, and structure of the book, a contribution by Antonio Barcelona critically reviews a number of controversial issues in the metonymy research arena, elaborates his own prototype-based redefinition and classification of metonymy, and discusses the distinction between metonymy and metaphor.

Part 1 of the book addresses metonymy and related semantic and rhetorical issues. It begins with a chapter by Carita Paradis, devoted to the relevance of metonymy to explaining the mechanisms of how lexical items activate and/or acquire new meanings. Specifically, the chapter focuses on two key mechanisms: metonymization and zone activation. Both are construals involving PART-WHOLE configurations, and the difference between them is that the former operates between senses, while the latter operates within senses. Dirk Geeraerts and Yves Peirsman clarify the terminological confusion between metonymy, profile/zone discrepancy, and facetization. Through syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic analysis, they conclude that facetization is a special type of metonymy in that it involves reference shift, a feature which is lacking in zone activation and thus renders it non-metonymical. Francisco José Ruiz de Mendoza Ibáñez argues that facetization and zone activation are two processes of domain reduction, which is one of the two content operations of metonymy, the other one being domain expansion. In revealing the cognitive mechanism of vertical polysemy, Anu Koskela distinguishes category broadening and narrowing from metonymy based on the fact that, besides involving different domain structures, the latter involves a shift in the salience of domains while the former does not.

The final two chapters of Part 1 apply metonymy to the analysis of complex tropes: Tanja Gradečak-Erdeljić and Goran Milić explore metonymic inference and pragmatic functions of euphemisms and dysphemisms in political discourse; and Javier Herrero Ruiz analyzes more tropes such as irony, oxymoron, overstatement, and understatement, repositioning them as idealized cognitive models and examining how their construction and interpretation rely on the operation of metonymy.

The chapters in Part 2 treat metonymy or metonymic chains as operations in domain networks/matrices. This argument is confirmed in the chapter by Réka Benczes, where he draws evidence from compounds. Rita Brdar-Szabó and Mario Brdar point out that metonymy should be viewed as ‘a discourse-driven inference or pragmatic function….arising in the course of domain expansion or reduction’ (245) instead of mapping. Focusing on indirect speech acts, Xianglan Chen refines the notion of domain matrix by proposing a more dynamic model, incorporating metonymic triggers such as our background knowledge, the immediate context, and individual pragmatic factors.

Parts of speech

Parts of speech: Empirical and theoretical advances. Ed. by Umberto Ansaldo, Jan Don, and Roland Pfau. (Benjamins current topics 25.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2010. Pp. vi, 291. ISBN 9789027222558. $143 (Hb).

Reviewed by Abhishek Kumar Kashyap, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

This book adds to the existing literature on the theoretical, empirical, and descriptive understanding of parts of speech (PoS). The book is comprised of twelve chapters, an introductory chapter, and eleven empirical studies, organized thematically. In the first chapter, the editors give a very brief introduction to the characteristic features of PoS, which stands as an overview of forthcoming chapters.

The following three chapters bear strong theoretical implications. In Ch. 2, Waldemar Schwager and Ulrike Zeshan propose semantic and structural criteria for identifying word classes in two different sign languages: German sign language and Kata Kolok, the sign language of a village in Bali. They examine the theoretical implication of previous works on the PoS system in sign languages and present an analysis of PoS in target sign languages. In Ch. 3, Christian Lehmann compares the roots and stems in a sample of six languages (English, German, Latin, Spanish, Yucatec Maya, and Mandarin Chinese) and makes a strong theoretical statement against the universality of the category of roots, arguing that the preconception of the categories as universal is a misleading approach. In Ch. 4, Walter Bisang presents a case against the universality of PoS in the Late Archaic Chinese (LAT) lexicon. Based on certain structural-conceptual and methodological criteria, he shows that LAT is a ‘precategorial’ language: formal lexical categories like noun and verb can be determined by the participant structure interpreted only in a full sentence.

Mark Donohue, in Ch. 5, and Yulia Koloskova and Toshio Ohori, in Ch. 6, show the split status of a common formal category, adjective, in Tukang Besi, an Austronesian language of Indonesia, and in the Miyako-Hirara dialect of Ryukyuan (Japan), respectively. In a similar vein, in Ch. 7 David Gil looks at the acquisition of categories by children in the Jakarta dialect of Indonesian where only two categories, noun and verb, can be distinguished. The following two chapters examine the noun. In Ch. 8, Jan Don and Marian Erkelens report an experiment on adult native speakers of Dutch to show that a native speaker is able to categorize the words of his or her language on the basis of phonological information. Lynn Nichols, in Ch. 9, presents a case of lexical borrowing in Zuni, a language spoken in the southwestern region of the United States, to show the grammatical complexity of nouns roots in the language that pose constraints on borrowability.

The final three chapters investigate the nature of PoS within the approach known as the Amsterdam model. In Ch. 10, Ventura Salazar-Garcia evaluates the model, arguing for a constituent-based taxonomy of PoS, first applying the analysis to Spanish quantifiers and then to ‘degree words’ expressing intensification in other modern Romance languages. In Ch. 11, Jan Rijkhoff discusses the dichotomy of flexible versus rigid classification of PoS and proposes that rather than one unified category of noun, there can be at least four subsets based on semantic and syntactic criteria. In the final chapter, Kees Hengeveld and Eva van Lier use the theoretical framework, discourse functional grammar, to compare the correlation between lexical and clausal constructs in a sample of twenty-three languages.

This volume crosslinguistically casts fresh light on the oversimplification of PoS. It will be a useful resource for linguists, researchers, and anyone interested in understanding grammar.

Research methods in bilingualism and multilingualism

The Blackwell guide to research methods in bilingualism and multilingualism. Ed. by Li Wei and Melissa G. Moyer. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008. Pp. xvii, 403. ISBN 9781405179003. $54.95.

Reviewed by Marián Sloboda, Charles University

This book suitably complements a number of handbooks dealing with bi- and multilingualism that are currently on the market. It is a guide, rather than a handbook, in the true sense of the word. It is characterized by a didactic style of writing and chapters include summaries of the main ideas, concluding with often annotated or sorted references to other literature and electronic sources, including software.

In seventeen of total twenty-two chapters, the book guides the reader through a number of methodological questions, research methods, and theoretical approaches. On one hand, the book includes chapters presenting very basic methodological issues, such as types and sources of data, selection of subjects and sites, and various data collection tools (e.g. laboratory designs, questionnaires, and audio/video recording). On the other hand, there, also, are chapters presenting particular theoretical approaches and concepts, including critical discourse analysis, conversation analysis, and social networks.

The reader should not expect detailed instructions for how to proceed in doing research, though the text on the back cover may give such an impression. Most chapters provide an outline of an approach or methodology. More detailed descriptions of methods can be reached following the references. From this book, the reader can expect to receive a basic idea and understanding of research methods and of various approaches, as well as types of research questions characteristic of each approach.

Some chapters reflect the individual inclinations of their authors more than others, such as the chapter on transcription which is devoted to only one transcription system. In addition to the seventeen chapters on research methodology and theoretical approaches, the book also includes two introductory and three concluding chapters. Student readers may particularly appreciate the three short, but very helpful, concluding chapters concerning project ideas, dissemination of research, and resources, including information about academic journals and publications, conferences, software tools, websites, and mailing lists.

Although this book is not rich in detail, it is certainly large in scope, covering a range of topics from neurolinguistic research to statistic analyses to ethnography. The book will be welcomed not only by students, but it may also be of interest to scholars who might, for example, if doing research focused on a particular aspect of bi- or multilingualism (e.g. on the social aspect), want to explore neurolinguistic or other approaches to the topic.