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Nerlich – Clark (2002 ) also offer a review of the roots of the
present day theory of metaphor. They refer to Locke, Kant and Vico (the
first two also discussed by Lakoff – Johnson (1999)) as the founding fathers of the 19th and 20th century philosophy of language. From among
many contributors to the field, they consider Wegener (1885)11 as one of
the most prominent. Wegener saw words as prompts for the hearer to reconstruct other instances of the word’s use and through these to arrive at
the speaker’s meaning. The speaker need not give the whole information,
but through careful selection of words s/he should decide which are the
necessary clues for the hearer to retrieve the intended information. This
idea was further developed by Gardiner (1932), who claims that “the meaning of the word (in language) is an accumulation of the former applications
of a word (in speech) to refer to specific things meant” (paraphrased by
Nerlich – Clark 2002: 572). He even calls this possible range of applications “areas of meaning”. Stählin (1913) and Bühler (1930, 1934), two psychologists from the turn of the 20th century, have also ascribed to this
model of meaning construction. Nerlich – Clark (2002: 586) finish their review of possible predecessors of cognitive theory with a warning:
… there is a danger that cognitive semanticists are going too far in opposing older, so-called ‘objectivist’ feature type theories of meaning. Mean11 From a long list of authors quoted by Nerlich – Clark I have selected only those
few whose affinity to cognitive theories of meaning I deemed most significant. 26 Chapter I
ing is not only constructed, a construction which has been studied from
Gerber to Fauconnier, it is also given in a language, and it is this givenness
that structuralist theories of meaning try to capture, especially in Europe… Despite many criticisms that CMT has encountered, it has undoubtedly performed an important function in popularizing the cognitive linguistic approach to imagery and conceptualization. The ideas expressed in Lakoff –
Johnson (1980) have given spur to many linguistic and interdisciplinary
studies of metaphoric thinking. The following passage from Lakoff – Johnson (1980: 40) inspired research in linguistics and related social sciences:
The conceptual systems of cultures and religions are metaphorical in nature.
Symbolic metonymies are critical links between everyday experience and
the coherent metaphorical systems that characterize religions and cultures.
Symbolic metonymies that are grounded in our physical experience provide
an essential means of comprehending religious and cultural concepts. Clearly, Conceptual Metaphor Theory can contribute to studies concerned
with the intersection of language, cognition and society. It can inform discourse studies – see Section 2.7. below.
2.4. Generic metaphors and the Great Chain of Being
Lakoff – Turner (1989) apply CMT to the analysis of poetry. Their basic
premise is that a poetic use of metaphor is based on the very same conceptual
experientially grounded metaphors as the everyday...
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