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Thus, the idea of a strong, female leader is created through conceptual blending, and the ultimately oxymoronic pairing of unlike words. Something new is created, through the use of cultural, political, religious, and historical references, and of the pairing of these two specific nouns together.
3. Explain what Fauconnier and Turner mean when they assert on page 15, in effect, that, "Metaphor is not just something derived from 'core meaning'?" Are they right? (Please refer to The Way We Think: Conceptual Blending and the Mind's Hidden Complexities by Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Tuner)
Because unlike the literary device or trope of simile, the use of metaphor deploys the verb 'is,' as in, 'hope is a thing with feathers,' in the famous poem of Emily Dickinson of this title, one is tempted to assume that metaphor accesses some core meaning of a word or concept. But as this example shows, the poet's point-of-view is highlighted rather than representing something truthful about hope. For Dickinson, hope may be elusive, ethereal, and bird-like. Hope was not nearly as tenuous, perhaps, as it was for the recently deceased actor Christopher Reeve, who believed with stalwart determination until the very last day of his life that with enough hope in his heart, mind, and body, he would be able to walk again.
Thus, metaphorical use often tells a reader more about the way a culture is interpreting a particular concept or word, rather than something intrinsic to the concept or word itself. Traditional linguists before the authors of the aforementioned text often suggested in their analyses that words in literal expressions invariably denoted what they meant according to common or dictionary usage. In other words, what one saw on the page was what one 'got,' when a reader saw that 'highway construction will take place from October to November' on Route 66, as opposed to the use of words in figurative expressions, such as "life is a highway -- I want to ride it all night long!" In the second expression, a highway is used to connote something other than what was meant according to common or dictionary usage. The writer was not talking about a literal highway he or she wished to ride all night long, but some larger meaning about life.
But cognitive linguists Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner have begun to take issue with such notions, suggesting that what is called literal as opposed to metaphorical meaning is not so clear-cut. Perhaps in the specified context of paving the meaning might be clear. But once one enters the realm of metaphor, something new is created. Thus, according to these authors is not clear that the notions of literal meanings should be seen as superior to metaphorical meanings. In fact, literal meanings and metaphorical meanings might be closer than we might think.
First of all, a word's literal meaning is merely the meaning a reader is most likely to assign to a word or phrase if we know nothing about the context in which it is to be used. This itself can vary, as 'highway' might denote, even in literal form, a highway that runs by our home, should we reside in America, while 'highway' to someone of German extraction might suggest the Autobahn, and riding upon this road is quite different than riding upon, say, Route 66 across the United States. The lack of a core meaning for a highway becomes even sharper in its context, however when considered as metaphor for something that stretches far and free into eternity -- a metaphor that might have more meaning for a Californian, for example, than someone whom has never left the island of Manhattan, and for whom a subway might have more metaphorical, emotional intensity as a metaphor for transportation that runs into eternity.
However, although metaphors are culturally and geographically specific in their resonance, again touching upon the authors' discussions of the lack of a core meaning to any metaphor or word, out of context, because of the relatively fast pace of cultural penetration in today's America and today's world, a New Yorker whom has never shopped at a Wall-Mart can still understood what is meant by the use of the metaphorical verb of the 'Wal-Martization' of America, or the standardization of American commodities in mega stores. The human cognitive ability to grasp language is fluid enough in cognitive terms to make new sense of words in metaphorical as well as literal contexts, even without the personal experiencing of such concepts.
Human beings are able, through metaphor, to sustain contradictions in ways that machines are not -- for instance, one accepts the metaphorical contradiction between the fact that Margaret Thatcher is not an iron lady, but a woman who possesses an iron will, or a strong will, and yet is also a woman and relies upon some feminine stereotypes and wiles to create a particular political image.
The idea of a computer desktop that does not actually top a desk, but is a small and computerized machine that 'sits' upon a desk, or 'rests' upon a desk is tolerated in a form of cognitive dissonance that seems uniquely human in its cognitive processes. Thus, not even such concrete words as computer, desk, or iron when used in the realm of metaphor, or even in the case of desktop, when used to convey a physical reality, have intrinsic core meanings. After all, life may be a highway, but a highway in the physical universe is not always elevated or high, nor does it point the way where one desires to go.[continue]
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